Glaciers: Ice ice baby

Ice ice baby. A song by Vanilla Ice. It must be a song from the 80’s or 90’s I guess. I never bothered to listen what it is about. Must say I don’t expect much from a tall peroxide adult guy called Vanilla Ice. ‘Ice ice baby’ is what comes to my mind when I stand in front of a magnificent glacier, aware of the incredible forces of nature. It lingers when I look up to a huge iceberg, feeling tiny and insignificant. ‘Ice ice baby’ is an expression of sheer admiration.

Admiring the view high above Grey glacier on the Circuito trail (Torres del Paine, Patagonia)

Admiring the view high above Grey glacier on the Circuito trail (Torres del Paine, Patagonia)

Ice is one of those incredible wonders of nature. A natural resource, holding one of our bare necessities in life, water. We depend on it for our survival. As do animals that live on and off the ice. If the ice is disappearing, it is disastrous for the world as we know it now. Today. But it is easy to forget that long ago there was no ice, and still life existed on our planet. Other life. A long time ago, dinosaurs roamed the Patagonian steppe, then fertile and green. The climate changed and there was an ice age, when Patagonia was covered by majestic glaciers hundreds of meters high. Then the earth warmed and the ice melted, setting the land under water. Fossils are found that prove the existence of life over time. Now the earth is warming even further, and the main part of Patagonia is a semi desert, where rivers are sparse and a few large lakes remain. Up till about 10.000 years ago, the Beagle channel was a glacier. Today the majority of Patagonian glaciers is calving faster than they increase and at times, big icebergs are discharged from (still) immense ice plateaus. The last ice is slowly melting. Slowly, seen over the number of years since the last ice age.

The Viedma glacier comes down from the continental ice field to end in the cold waters of the Viedma lake (El Chalten, Patagonia)

The Viedma glacier comes down from the continental ice field to end in the cold waters of the Viedma lake (El Chalten, Patagonia)

These developments are all part of a natural circle of life. One that we try to fight, but it’s a lost battle. The climate changes. It’s happening now, as it always happened over the existence of our planet. We just never were aware of the consequences as we witness them today. Both humans and animals either adapt to the changes, or they disappear. Which has happened for numerous people and prehistoric animals before. Climate change can’t be stopped as it is a (more or less) natural process. It may be true that we speed up the process due to a growing number of inhabitants, overexploiting and misuse of the world’s resources. Unfortunately, these days it seems that money makes the world go round. Not the universe or universal forces. Anyhow, nature will take its course.

Ice ice baby. Standing on one impressive chunk of ancient old ice (Perito Moreno glacier, Patagonia)

Ice ice baby. Standing on one impressive chunk of ancient old ice (Perito Moreno glacier, Patagonia)

The glaciers we see today, are remnants of the last ice age. That was millions of years ago. They may have shrunk to a tiny portion of what they were, but they do persist, so far. Thinking about it, it’s pretty incredible that we still can admire these remainders of a long ago past in today’s life. Though residing, the glaciers will be around for quite some more time. Let’s enjoy their impressive sight while we can.

Ice ice baby.

Hanging glacier off mount Tronador see from the trekkers' hut (Bariloche, Patagonia)

Hanging glacier off mount Tronador see from the trekkers’ hut Otto Meiling (Bariloche, Patagonia)

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