Glaciar Juncal Norte, Chile: Repeat Photography (1959-2011)

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By Matt Beedle

In 2011 members of Chile Glacier Quest set out for Glaciar Juncal Norte  to repeat a 1959 photo taken by Ulrich Lorber.  This expedition was made possible through an American Alpine Club Nikwax Alpine Bellwether Grant (AAC NABG).  Read the report on this adventure here.

Glacial Juncal Norte is one of the largest and best studied glaciers of the Aconcagua river basin of central Chile.

The 1959 image is used here with the permission of Ulrich Lorber.  The 2011 image was taken by the AAC NABG Expedition to Glaciar Juncal Norte and was made available to by expedition member Kurt Sanderson.

The debris-covered toe of Glaciar Juncal Norte presents a bit of a challenge in visually detecting recent change.  Debris cover has increased since 1959 and it appears that there has been some recession.  Modest thinning is apparent on the right side of the tongue, where the glacier surface appears to have sunk in relation to the lateral moraine.

Work by Francisca Bown and others (2008) found Glaciar Juncal Norte to have receded 464 meters from 1955 to 2006.  However, recession of Juncal Norte (4 m per year) is small in comparison with other glaciers in Chile such as Glaciar Juncal Sur which receded at a rate of 50 m per year over the same time period.  GPS surveying of the surface elevation of Glaciar Juncal Norte showed an average rate of thinning of ~0.6 m per year from 1955 to 2003.

Learn more about glacier change in Chile and research by Chilean scientists at the Laboratorio de Glaciologia (in English here).

The field work of Chile Glacier Quest continues with new scientific endeavors.  Follow their 2013 efforts on Cerro Plomo here.

Information on Juncal Norte and repeat photographs will have a permanent home in the Scrapbook.

It’s a pleasure to expand the content of to the Southern Hemisphere.  Thank you, Kurt!

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April 12, 2013

It was great to connect with, and I’m glad I can help spread the word about the importance of glaciers. Thanks, Matt!