Across the planet glaciers are retreating as temperatures rise and weather patterns change. Our ship, the Arctic Sunrise and her crew, is currently in Patagonia to highlight the impacts of climate change on the glaciers at the tip of South America. These glaciers are the fastest retreating glaciers on the globe as our demand for oil, gas and coal changes the climate of the Earth.
View of the front of the Grey Glacier where it 'calves' or falls into the glacial lake. The glaciers of Patagonia are some of the fastest retreating glaciers on Earth.
Glaciers are huge reserves of frozen water found in Polar
Regions andin mountainous areas. They provide water for millions of
people,animals and plants. Glaciers are dynamic, meaning they swap
betweenstages of growth and retreat but what is worrying now is
that themajority of glaciers across the globe are retreating.
Not only does this melting reduce the water supplies of many
people,it causes sea levels to rise, which threatens millions with
devastatingcoastal flooding. The Patagonia glaciers and ice fields
have lost 42cubic kms of ice every year for the last seven years.
That is theequivalent to the volume of ten thousand large football
stadiums. Themelting has accelerated in recent years. Currently the
Patagonian icefields contribute to nine percent of the global sea
level rise frommountain glaciers.
Our web editor Iréne has swapped the cold and ice of Stockholm
inthe winter for the, err, cold and wind of Patagonia in summer to
bringthe dramatic and worrying melting occurring in this remote
corner ofChile to the wider public.
visitwas to the stunning Grey Glacier in the National Park of
Torres delPaine. Beautiful views of blue icebergs, condors and
lamas contrastwith the tales of the glaciers retreat from the local
guide andclimbers. Listen
to Susan, guide and climber in the area.
after only one week in the area the impacts of climate change start
home for Iréne:"We've now spent a little more than a week here
in both the Chilean andArgentinean part of Patagonia. Most days
we've been up early and comeback late in the evening. We've visited
glaciers and talked to peopleliving and working in the area. This
is one of the most beautifulplaces I've ever seen, but it has also
made me very sad: climate changeis no longer something abstract -
the impacts of climate change arevery real. The glaciers are
melting at an accelerating speed andchanges can bee seen from year
Not many of us will get the chance to visit a glacier but
climatechange means more storms, floods, droughts and rising sea
levels thatwill affect us all. Iréne sums up the situation: "I
remembered how ateacher in school illustrated the history of our
planet by unfurling aroll of toilet paper and attach it on the
classroom walls. He thenmarked the different eras on it. At the
very end, hardly visible, therewas a very small field, more like a
thin line: that was how longmankind has been around. Changes on our
planet normally happen veryslowly. During the last hundred years
however, changes have all of asudden happened very fast:
temperatures and sea levels rising,droughts, floods and melting
icefields - we are actually changing theclimate! Just think about
it for a little while."
Some governments are slowly realising that they must tackle
climatechange and are holding a conference on renewable energy in
June. Sendthem a "Postcard
from Patagonia" to show them you want them to tackle the
problem. We will deliver your card, frozen in a huge block of ice
to the conference.
Don't buy products from the
world's #1 climate criminal, Exxon/Esso.
online diary from Patagonia in full.
More about the expedition