Mystery surrounds Chile’s vanishing lakes

Posted on May 22, 2012

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Santiago – In less than 24 hours Lake Cachet II in Chile’s southern Patagonia vanished, leaving behind just some large puddles and chunks of ice in the vast lake bed.

The lake’s water comes from ice melting from the Colonia Glacier, located in the Northern Patagonian ice field, some 2,000 kilometres south of the capital, Santiago.

The glacier normally acts as a dam containing the water, but rising temperatures have weakened its wall. Twice this year, on January 27 and March 31, water from the lake bore a tunnel between the rocks and the glacier wall.

The result: Lake Cachet II’s 200 million cubic litres of water gushed out into the Baker river, tripling its volume in a matter of hours, and emptying the five square kilometre ( lake bed.

Cachet II has drained 11 times since 2008 – and with global temperatures climbing, experts believe this will increase in frequency.

IOL

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