Thursday, June 21, 2007

Chile's lost lake

A glacial lake in the Southern Andes is now an empty crater 100 feet deep.
The lake, some 20,000 square metres in area, was last seen in March. By May, all that was left was a 30-metre-deep crater and a few pieces of stranded ice that used to float on top of the water. A river running from it had reduced to a trickle, according to the park rangers who first noticed the lake was missing.

It's not the first time that a lake has disappeared, although it is quite rare for bodies of water to vanish so quickly. In central Russia in May 2005, Lake Beloye disappeared "overnight" according to local reports. People assumed that the water had been sucked into an underground cave or river. Scott Lake, in Florida, disappeared into a sinkhole over the course of a week in June 2006.

From NewScientist:
I am not for one moment suggesting that researchers at Chile's National Forestry Corporation (Conaf) are careless - suffice to say that since March, they have managed to lose a 2-hectare (5-acre) lake.

CBS news has more:
Global warming could have melted the ice and increased water levels, which, in turn, could have put pressure on the glacial lake's walls and caused a break, he said. But global warming is not going to cause the lake to disappear in one month.

Update 7/4/2007: mystery solved

Scientists yesterday told Chilean media that "a build-up of water opened a crack in an ice wall along one side of the lake", and the contents then "flowed through the crack into a nearby fjord and from there into the sea, leaving behind a dry lake-bed littered with icebergs".

Glacier expert Andres Rivera, who visited the site as part of a "missing lakes" investigative team, happily reported: "It looks like it's slowly filling up with water again." He did, however, offer the traditional warning that the lake's escape was "evidence of the effects of global warming"

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