As beautiful as a glacier in Chile’s Queulat National Park is, it can be just as catastrophic as this group of tourists discovered.
From behind the safety of a computer screen, it may not seem quite as impactful, but rest assured, the collapse of a giant glacier is nothing short of deadly if you’re unlucky enough to find yourself in its path.
Recently, a tourist exploring the national park on the Chilean side of Patagonia witnessed the sheer force and destruction that comes with a fallen glacier. The tourist began filming just as a 650-foot piece of glacier cracked and quickly crumbled into the valley below.
Scientists Believe Cause of Glacier Collapse Was Climate Related
According to University of Santiago climate scientist Raul Cordero, the cause of the glacier’s demise was the recent heat wave that struck the region. Lately, the area has been experiencing high temperatures as well as high rainfall, and even though glacier collapses are a natural occurrence, Cordero believes that the “frequency” of these collapses is cause for alarm.
“Because this type of event is triggered by heat waves or by intense liquid precipitation events and both things are also happening more and more frequently throughout the planet, not only in Chile,” Cordero said.
Cordero explained that temperatures before the fall were “very abnormal” in that area of Patagonia. Additionally, the climate scientist said that there was also an “atmospheric river” of warm air and high moisture. When that meets Andean and Patagonian topography, “it forms large clouds and discharges precipitation.”
“One of the consequences of global warming is that it is destabilizing several glaciers and in particular some unstable glacier walls,” Cordero said, per Reuters. “That is the case of what happened in the last few days in Patagonia in a similar way to what happened a couple of months ago in both the Himalayas and the Alps.”
“He continued, “That is the case of what happened in the last few days in Patagonia in a similar way to what happened a couple of months ago in both the Himalayas and the Alps.”
Chilean Environmental Group Agrees with Climate Scientist’s Perspective
Cordero isn’t the only one with concerns regarding the glaciers’ collapsing rate and the area’s weather patterns. Defendiendo Glaciares is a group consisting of 29 organizations from Copiapo to Aysen, Chile for the purpose of protecting glaciers. Just like Cordero, the group thinks that climate change is behind the rapid fall of the Patagonian glacier.
“Images that leave us breathless, great detachment of the Queulat glacier in the Aysén region,” the group wrote on Twitter.
“This glacier, so characteristic of Chilean Patagonia, calls us to take ACTIVE awareness to face global warming, the main cause of climate change.”