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Argentine scientist indicted for creating census of glaciers

An Argentinian scientist has been indicted on criminal charges for the standard manner in which he designed Argentine’s glacier census.

The lawsuit was filed by a grassroots group after the Veladero mine in northwestern Argentina spilled cyanide into the Jáchal watershed in September 2015. Another spill in the same area occurred this past September.

[Ricardo] Villalba, who led the National Institute of Snow, Ice and Environmental Research (IANIGLA) in Mendoza from 2005 to 2015, launched Argentina’s first comprehensive glacier inventory in 2012. Based on satellite images, the inventory set a minimum glacier size of 1 hectare. “The process of making that inventory wasn’t unusual. That size cutoff is standard practice,” says Bruce Raup of the University of Colorado in Boulder, who is also director of the Global Land Ice Measurements from Space project, an international glacier monitoring project. Argentina’s inventory includes 30 ice masses covering about 400 hectares in the Veladero area, Villalba says.

The indictment argues that the 1-hectare limit and the lack of an on-site inspection led to “the exclusion—and resulting lack of protection—of many bodies of ice” around Veladero that should have been considered priorities because of their importance as water sources.

I would say that this is an example of the dog biting the hand that feeds it. The article notes that Villalba is “sympathic” to the activists who filed the lawsuit. They however don’t care about that. They instead want to use his research and the law to distort how glacier research is done in order to gain power over water use that actually has little if anything to do with glaciers.

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