Images of science

Glacial meltdown

In each issue, this page will be largely given over to a scientific image. The image above is indirectly linked to the special report on climate change and to the launch of the Polar Year. It is part of the exhibition organised by the Helmholtz Association which is travelling around Europe: The Earth as a Work of Art. A forthcoming special issue of our magazine will be dedicated to the planet as seen from the air.

This artificially coloured image shows the great San-Quintin glacier in southern Chile. It extends as far as the plain, with the vegetation on the hillsides depicted in red. The tongue of the glacier plunges into a lake (on the left-hand side of the picture), surrounded by the terminal moraine that is pushed forward by the glacier.

Glaciers in creeks and valleys react more rapidly than polar glaciers to a variation in temperature. It has been noticed that the size of some glaciers in the Andes has reduced significantly.

In the centre of the photograph, we can see an area which was still largely covered by ice in 1994.