Field campaign at calving glaciers in Patagonia 2012/13

As a part of JSPS project "The role of ice dynamics in the rapid retreat of calving glaciers", we visited three glaciers, Perito Moreno, Upsala and Viedma, in the southern Patagonia Icefield from December 2012 to January 2013. GPS receivers were deployed to measure short term ice speed variations and preliminary lake measurements were performed in the lakes of the glaciers. To find a hot water drilling site for the next season, reconnaissance helicopter flight was carried out over the glaciers.
Glaciar Perito Moreno is the one on which Japanese research group has been working for the last several decades. This glacier has shown no significant retreat nor advance since the mid 20th century, being an exception among many of rapidly retreating calving glaciers in Patagonia. After the hot water drilling project in 2010, we extended our study area several kilometers upglacier. This upper reach of the glacier is one of the possible drilling sites in 2012/13.
Glaciar Upsala is the third largest glacier in Patagonia and rapidly retreating over the last several decades. Our satellite study revealed the rates of retreat and thinning after 2008 were greatest ever recorded for this glacier. This event was accompanied by significant ice acceleration, suggesting the importance of ice dynamics in the changes in calving glacier. Because of these observations, ice dynamics and subglacial conditions are the most interesting subjects for the project. Nevertheless, working on this glacier is not easy because ablation area is entirely covered by crevasses and weather conditions are very severe in this region. Drilling very thick ice under the difficult conditions is a big challenge for us.
Glacier Viedma has a relatively narrow calving front, but has a large catchment area in the upper reaches, forming the second largest glacier in Patagonia. Despite its great importance in the icefield, only a few research activities were reported on this glacier. Glacier is steeply descending into Lago Viedma and thus deep crevasses are covering the surface near the terminus. The current calving front locates in a small bay, which is suitable to study the interaction of ice and lakewater.

Glaciar Perito Moreno

Glaciar Upsala

Glaciar Viedma

Icefield from the air



Here are several movies from the field campaign (link to YoutTube)