Buenos Aires: The Ameghino glacier in Argentina has receded four kilometres over the past 80 years due to the effects of global warming, non-governmental environment organisation Greenpeace has said.
Greenpeace has released photos of the glacier, located in the Los Glaciares National Park in Santa Cruz province - one photo taken in 1931 and the other taken in March - which shows recession of the mass of ice.
"What can be seen is a notable retraction, of almost four kilometres, which coincides with the evolution - in recent decades - of almost all the ice along the whole Andes mountain chain," said Juan Carlos Villalonga, campaign director for Greenpeace Argentina.
The most recent photo of Ameghino was taken by Greenpeace on a joint expedition with the Argentine institute of snow and glacier studies - or Ianigla - while the one from 1931 was taken from the same spot by the Rev. Alberto De Agostini.
Father Alberto Maria De Agostini (1883-1960) was an Italian missionary as well as a passionate mountaineer, explorer, geographer, ethnographer, photographer and cinematographer, who lived as a missionary in Chile and Argentina, where he was the first to reach several mountain peaks and glaciers.
In comparing the two photos, one can see that in front of the glacier there is now a lake that did not appear in other pictures taken in 1949, an expert said.
"Ameghino was one of the glaciers that Ianigla began to study some time ago. And rapidly, year after year, and comparing with historic documents that we have from that time, we clearly saw a very marked process of retraction," institute director Ricardo Villalba said.
"The effect of global warming is the retraction of the masses of ice all over the planet and, obviously, Argentina and the South American glaciers are not set apart from that," he said.
"One periodically travels the Andes mountain chain and clearly sees that the process of retraction is continuing and, in many cases, it has accelerated," he said.
Greenpeace said the disappearance of glaciers represents a loss of freshwater reserves and many of those masses of ice contribute meltwater to the rivers that begin among the high peaks.
Ameghino belongs to the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, which includes 13 large glaciers and 190 smaller ones.