Photos show Patagonia's massive, melting glaciers
Photographer Mario Tama travelled to Patagonia, where vast reserves of fresh water are locked in ice
This story is part of CBC News special coverage of climate change issues in connection with the United Nations climate change conference (COP21) being held in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.
3rd-largest icefield in the world
The Perito Moreno glacier, in Los Glaciares National Park, is part of the Southern Patagonian Icefield, the third-largest reservoir of fresh water in the world. The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are the first- and second-largest frozen reservoirs respectively.
Bleeding edge of climate change
Located in Argentina's Santa Cruz province, most of the almost 50 large glaciers in Los Glaciares are in retreat and have been shrinking steadily over the past 50 years due to warming temperatures, according to a report by the European Space Agency (ESA), which monitors the effects of climate change from above.
COP21 climate talks underway in Paris
On Monday, 150 world leaders — including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — and negotiators from nearly 200 countries gathered for the climate change conference talks in Paris and got down to the work of hammering out a deal to slow climate change.
The goal in Paris
Negotiators hope to turn a 50-page draft riddled with sticky issues into a binding, global agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions to levels that will prevent a rise in average global temperatures by two degrees (the baseline being the Earth's surface temperature from around the end of the Industrial Revolution (useful records emerged around 1880).
Ahead of the COP21 climate talks, the UN released a series of sobering forecasts predicting dire circumstances — including more severe storms — for the planet's plant and animal (and human) populations if the two-degree threshold is crossed.
Water, water everywhere
Disaster scenarios linked to a rise in global temperatures include the release of trillions of litres of water currently locked in ice sheets like the polar ice caps and Patagonia's icefield. The resulting sea-level rise would inundate coastal cities like Vancouver and Halifax, amounting to trillions of dollars in property damage, and worse.
With files from Reuters and Getty Images