A naturally recurring phenomenon unfolded in Argentina this week, culminating in a stunning spectacle on Sunday when an ice dam at Argentina’s Perito Moreno glacier collapsed into Lake Argentina.
“Several tons of ice fell off the 60-meter (200 foot) ice dam into Lago Argentina at the national park in southern Santa Cruz province,” AFP reported. “Some 5,000 tourists had been in the park Saturday awaiting the ice show, park rangers said, but the slight movement of ice which began Wednesday turned into an avalanche at around 4:00 am (0700 GMT), leaving visitors disappointed.”
That’s the first time a chunk has fallen off since 2008.
You may have heard some cheering in the background as the ice collapsed, which may as well lead you to wonder whether people are cheering for species-threatening climate change and global warming. But according to scientists as late as 2009 (and this is presumably still the case), Argentina’s Perito Moreno is a rare glacier that has grown despite rising global temperatures.
The Associated Press explains a bit more about it in this 2009 piece:
“We’re not sure why this happens,” said Andres Rivera, a glacialist with the Center for Scientific Studies in Valdivia, Chile. “But not all glaciers respond equally to climate change.”
Every few years, Perito Moreno expands enough to touch a point of land across Lake Argentina, cutting the nation’s largest freshwater lake in half and forming an ice dam as it presses against the shore.
The water on one side of the dam surges against the glacier, up to 200 feet (60 meters) above lake level, until it breaks the ice wall with a thunderous crash, drowning the applause of hundreds of tourists.
In other words, this thing is essentially a climate-change denier’s wet and icy dream.
(top image via AAP/EPA)