There is an asymmetric pattern response of glaciers in Darwin Cordillera (54–55° S, 69–71° W) to the climate of the 20th century. This asymmetry is suggested here as a cause of an increased wind activity which has a pronounced orographic effect. Although climatic records for the last 50 years show a warming trend, as well as no trend in precipitation in the area, some glaciers are advancing. The area is characterized by strong climatic gradients, with high rates of precipitation on the southwestern side of the range and dry conditions on the northern side. Glaciers on the northern and eastern sides show a general trend of receding fronts. With a few exceptions, these glaciers have gradually and uninterruptedly been shrinking since the turn of the century. On the southern rim, the present extents of some glaciers are similar to their 20th century maximum extents. These are, in turn, similar or close to the Holocene maximum. The most extreme sites are the glaciers on either side of Mount Darwin, which is 2469 m high. The north-facing glacier Ventisquero Marinelli has retreated several hundred metres per year over the last two decades, while the south-facing glaciers in the Pahia Pia basin have advanced during the same period.
In this study, the frontal changes over the last 50 years of 20 glaciers have been analysed. Aerial photographs (verticals) from 1943 and 1984 have been used, as well as oblique aerial photographs from 1993. The general result is that glaciers with accumulation areas facing south and west show somewhat stable fronts, while glaciers facing east and north show receding fronts.