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Argentina on Ice

Discovering Los Glaciares National Park, a natural wonder in Patagonia.

When you think of Argentina, images of tango dancers in the streets of Buenos Aires or gauchos herding cattle on the wide-open pampas generally come to mind. But ice? Surprisingly, the Perito Moreno Glacier—in Los Glaciares National Park, in the Argentine part of Patagonia—is among the country's most popular attractions. Every three years, this massive 63,000-acre glacier (it's more than eighteen miles long) spreads over Lake Argentino until the pressure at the lake's bend is too great, and the ice loudly calves and cleaves in one of nature's most dramatic water shows. At the same time, sun refracts off the glacier, painting impressive rainbows in the cold, bare sky, which is what French aerial photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand captured in this photograph.

A dedicated environmentalist, Arthus-Bertrand began his Earth From Above series as a way to catalogue our planet's beauty for future generations (this image first appeared in the book version; a related film recently debuted in France). Global warming may be threatening many of the world's reserves of freshwater, but scientists believe that this resilient floe at the southern tip of South America is the only one that has achieved a state of equilibrium: Perito Moreno grows and evaporates at roughly the same rate. And in 1981, UNESCO declared Los Glaciares, which comprises dozens of other glaciers (hence the name), a World Heritage site. So when Arthus-Bertrand's great-grandchildren—or yours—visit the park years from now, perhaps they will find this majestic glacier intact.

Published on 8/29/2007


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