The timing and nature of recession of outlet glaciers of Hielo Patagónico Norte, Chile, from their Neoglacial IV (Little Ice Age) maximum positions


The dates of recession of eleven outlet glaciers of the Hielo Patagónico Norte (Northern Patagonian Icefield) from their recent maximum positions have been inferred from dendrochronology, lichenometry, radiocarbon dating and historical sources. We have refined the dating for part of the Little Ice Age period in this area placing a glacial advance to between AD 1650 and 1766 with the latter date favoured as conformable with historical records and an uncalibrated radiocarbon determination. Glacier recession from maximal positions began in the early 1860s–1870s. Recession was largely synchronous on the western and eastern sides of the Icefield. This synchronicity suggests that climate forcing over-rides second-order controls on glacier behaviour such as the nature of the terminal environment (e.g. calving/non-calving) or differences in glacier drainage basin area. We argue that this icefield-wide glacier recession represents a response to post-Little Ice Age warming, and provides further evidence for the global extent and near synchronous termination of the Little Ice Age.

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