(Western Glacier of Salenques: left, 1990; dcha., 2005 (author: J. Camins))

The Aragonese Pyrenean glaciers have experienced a marked decline in surface and volume since the 1980s. In several previous contributions we have analyzed these patterns of degradation both at a general scale, as well as massifs, confirming how the conjunction of climatic elements at regional level (increase in temperatures, decrease in winter rainfall) and local factors (linked to topography) has brought to the different glacial apparatuses to the state that we can observe today.

Below, updated, the surface extension data (and other associated parameters) of the glaciers and ice makers located in the massifs of Hells, Monte Perdido, Posets and Maladeta, the only ones that remain glaciers (the recent regressive evolution has taken to the total deglaciation of the massifs of Balaitús, Vignemale, La Munia and Perdiguero). The working method is based on the integration of different observations (terrestrial, aerial) in a Geographic Information System (GIS), which allows an effective analysis and updating of the results.


Those interested in joining the team of volunteers that collaborate in the glaciological campaigns of the research project (taking photographs, measurements on the terrain of aspects related to glacier dynamics), can complete and submit the following form:


Useful Link

A list of websites related to the research project or its subject is included below:


A list of publications (books, chapters of books and articles) related to the research project is included below:


Chueca, J., Peña, J.L., Lampre, F., Garcia-Ruiz, J.M. & Martí, C. (1998): The glaciers of the Aragonese Pyrenees: study of their evolution and current extension, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, 104 pp.
Peña, J.L., Chueca, J., Lampre, F. & Julian, A. (1998): The Little Ice Age in the southern central Pyrenees: paleoenvironmental inferences from geomorphological data. In Gómez Ortiz, A. & Pérez Alberti, A. (Eds.): The glacial footprints of the Spanish mountains, University of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, 307-328.


Chueca, J. & Julián, A. (1999): Reconstruction of thermal values ​​from the spatial analysis of glacial moraines in the Macizo de la Maladeta (Spanish central Pyrenees): XVII-XX centuries. In Raso, J.M. & Martín-Vide, J. (Eds.): Spanish climatology at the dawn of the 21st century, Oikos-Tau and Spanish Climatology Association, Serie A, Barcelona, ​​139-146.


Chueca, J. (2000): Application of the geo-ecological approach in the definition of protection zones in protected natural spaces: the case of the “Natural monuments of the Pyrenean glaciers.” In Valle, B. (Coord.): Geography and Spaces Protected, Association of Spanish Geographers-FENPA, Madrid, 103-112.
Chueca, J., Peña, J.L., Julian, A. & Blanchard, E. (2000): Dynamics of the glaciers of the Aragonese Pyrenees: results of the glaciological campaign of the year 1998, Aragon Glaciological Bulletin, 1: 13-41.


Chueca, J., Julián, A., Saz, MA, Creus, J., López, I. & Lapeña, A. (2001): Study of the evolution of the Coronas glacier (Macizo de la Maladeta, Spanish central Pyrenees) , from the end of the Little Ice Age to the present, and its relationship with the climate, Aragon Glaciological Bulletin, 2: 81-115.
Julián, A., Chueca, J., Peña, J.L., López-Moreno, J.I. & Lapeña, A. (2001): Dynamics of the glaciers of the Aragonese Pyrenees: results of the glaciological campaign of the year 1999, Aragon Glaciological Bulletin, 2, pp. 13-36.


Chueca, J. & Julián, A. (2002): The Aragonese Pyrenean glaciers: study of their evolution from the end of the Little Ice Age to the present day through photographic documentation, Diputación de Huesca, Huesca, 323 pp.
Chueca, J., Julián, A. & Peña, J.L. (2002): Comparison of the situation of the glaciers of the Spanish Pyrenees between the end of the Little Ice Age and the present. Aragon Glaciological Bulletin, 3: 13-41.


Chueca, J., Julián, A. & López-Moreno, J.I. (2003a): Variations of Coronas Glacier, Pyrenees, Spain, during the 20th century. Journal of Glaciology, 49 (166): 449-455.
Chueca, J., Julián, A., Saz, M.A. & Creus, J. (2003b): The Maladeta glacier (Spanish central Pyrenees): analysis of its evolution since the Little Ice Age and its relationship with climatic factors. Quaternary and Geomorphology, 17 (3-4): 41-55.


Chueca, J. & Julian, A. (2004a): Relationship between solar radiation and the development and morphology of small cirque glaciers (Maladeta mountain massif, Central Pyrenees, Spain). Geografiska Annaler, 86A (1): 81-89.
Chueca, J. & Julián, A (2004b): Influence of solar radiation on the post-Little Ice Age degradation and fragmentation process of the Maladeta glacier (Spanish central Pyrenees). Geographical Research Notebooks, 30: 61-84.
Chueca, J., Julián, A. & René, P. (2004a): State of the glaciers in the Pyrenean mountain range (Spanish and French slopes) at the end of the 20th century. In Benito, G. & Díez Herrero, A. (Eds.): Recent contributions on geomorphology (Actas VIII National Meeting of Geomorphology), SEG-CSIC, Madrid, 91-102.
Chueca, J., Julián, A., López_Moreno, J.I., Peña, J.L. & Camins, J. (2004b): Analysis of the recent evolution of the glaciers of the Maladeta massif (Spanish Central Pyrenees): quantification of surface and volume losses. Aragon Glaciological Bulletin, 5: 9-164.
Julián, A., Chueca, J. & René, P. (2004): The current glacier in the massifs of Balaitús and Infiernos-Punta Zarra (central Pyrenees). In Peña, J.L., Longares, L.A. & Sánchez Fabre, M. (Eds.): Physical Geography of Aragón. General and thematic aspects, University of Zaragoza-Fernando El Católico Institution, Zaragoza, 95-101.


Chueca, J., Julian, A., Saz, M.A., Creus, J. & Lopez-Moreno, J.I. (2005): Responses to climatic changes since the Little Ice Age on Maladeta Glacier (Central Pyrenees). Geomorphology, 68: 167-182.


Chueca, J. & Julián, A. (2006): Recent degradation of glaciers in the Spanish Pyrenees: data on surface loss during the observation period 1981 / 2005-2006. Aragon Glaciological Bulletin, 7: 9-182.
Chueca, J., Julián, A. & López-Moreno, J.I. (2006): Analysis of the recent evolution of the glaciers of the Maladeta massif (Spanish Pyrenees): conditioning factors. In Cuadrat, J.M. et al. (Eds.): Climate, Society and the Environment, Spanish Climatology Association, Serie A, Zaragoza, 565-577.
López-Moreno, J.I., Nogués, D., Chueca, J. & Julián, A. (2006a): Glacier development and topographic context. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 31 (12): 1585-1594.
López-Moreno, J.I., Nogués, D., Chueca, J. & Julián, A. (2006b): Change of topographic control on the extent of cirque glaciers since the Little Ice Age. Geophysical Research Letters, 33, L24505.


Chueca, J., Julián, A. & López-Moreno, J.I. (2007): Recent evolution (1981-2005) of the Maladeta glaciers, Pyrenees, Spain: extent and volume losses and their relation with climatic and topographic factors. Journal of Glaciology, 53 (183): 547-557.


Aragon Glaciological Bulletin

The Aragon Glaciological Bulletin, funded through the research project, is an annual scientific journal, edited and distributed by the Department of Geography and Territorial Planning of the University of Zaragoza through its Secretariat (Faculty of Philosophy and Letters; University of Zaragoza, University Campus, 50009-Zaragoza). It gathers original research works in any of the topics related to cold media (glacialism, periglacialism) mainly in the Pyrenees, although other sectors also have a place. It constitutes an agile medium for the diffusion of recent works carried out in these lines, as well as a discussion forum that facilitates the integration of experiences, knowledge about research projects and work methodologies developed by the specialists of these disciplines. The submitted works are submitted to external and anonymous evaluation prior to their publication. Intellectual property gives the authors full disposition and exploitation

Dissemination: The works published in the Aragon Glaciological Bulletin are collected indexed in the national databases ISOC and ICYT, and international Latindex, GeoRef and ISSN International.

Drafting and Administration: Secretariat of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters; Zaragoza’s University; University campus; 50009-Zaragoza.

Correspondence and sending of manuscripts: Javier Chueca Cía (Main Editor); Department of Geography and Territorial Planning; Faculty of Humanities and Education; Zaragoza’s University; Plaza de la Universidad, 3; 22002-Huesca.


Oblique aerial photography of the upper and lower glaciers of Monte Perdido (Author: J. Latron, 7-10-2005)
Oblique aerial photography of the upper and lower glaciers of Monte Perdido (Author: J. Latron, 7-10-2005)

The research project “Study of the dynamics of the glaciers of the Aragonese Pyrenees” analyzes since 1998 the evolution experienced by glacial devices located in the Aragonese Pyrenees. Funded by the Department of Environment of the Government of Aragon, the research team is composed of members of the University of Zaragoza (Director: J. Chueca Cía; researchers: JL Peña Monné and A. Julián Andrés) and a large group of volunteers that collaborates selflessly in the annual glaciological campaigns.


Location of current glaciers (2006):
1.12a) Gl. Occ. of the Maladeta
1.12b) Gl. Or. of the Maladeta
1.13) Gl. of the Aneto
1.14) Gl. of Barrancs
1.15a) Gl. Occ. of Tempestades
1.16) Gl-hel. of Crowns
The glacial perimeters in 1981 are included as a reference.

Nº ref. Aparato Categoría
Ext. 1981 (ha)
Ext. 2006 (ha)
Alt. Media 1981
Alt. Media 2006
1.12 Maladeta Glaciar
1.12a Occ. Maladeta Glaciar
1.12b Or. Maladeta Glaciar.
1.13 Aneto Glaciar
1.14 Barrancs Glaciar
1.15 Tempestades Glaciar
1.15a Occ. Tempestades Glaciar
1.16 Coronas Glac.-Hel.

The best preserved and largest glacial complex in the Pyrenees is located in the valley of the Ésera river or Benasque (marginally includes the valley of Salenques, which flows into the basin of the Noguera Ribagorzana), within the Maladeta massif. The core of the massif is built in the crystalline materials of the Maladeta, an igneous body elongated in the E-O direction, composed of homogeneous masses of granodiorite that, in the area of ​​ridges, usually become granites, more resistant to erosion. The hardness and massiveness of these materials give the massif its particular morphology, with generalized elevations above three thousand meters (Aneto, 3,404 m, Pico Maldito, 3,350 m, Maladeta, 3,308 m, Alba, 3,118 m, Tempestades, 3,278 m ; Pico Russell, 3,205 m) and strong relief energies between the cimeros cresteríos and the bottoms of the secondary valleys (Cregüeña, Barrancs, Coronas, etc.), often carved from the dense network of fracturing that crosses the massif. The morphostructural disposition of the area (NO-SE), has determined, as in the case of Hells or Monte Perdido, a favorable orientation to the NE for most of the glacier devices now cataloged in the sector; only the glacier-helero de Coronas is oriented to the SW, in difficult conditions of conservation.

The western and eastern glaciers of the Maladeta glacier, the Aneto glacier, the Barrancs glacier, the Western Tempestades glacier and the small glaciar-helero de Coronas are located in the massif, at an altitude of 2,800 meters above sea level. . These categories are maintained since the last specific inventory made for the area, in which the volume and glacier surface losses during the period 1981 / 1999-2005 were analyzed.

The western glacier of the Maladeta shows an increasingly degraded aspect, tending to become a static iceberg soon (only cracks can be seen on its eastern margin). The Oriental glacier, on the other hand, still exhibits an appreciable dynamism, with the development of longitudinal and transversal traction cracks of metric width and depth in its proximal and middle sections (although the loss of thickness in its central lobe is very evident). The presence of a debris cover is becoming visible on many areas of the Western glacier and, more punctually, frequently associated with clash leaks and rocky landslides from the crest of the Portillones, on the distal perimeter and the eastern end of the Oriental apparatus. .

The Aneto glacier still has a dynamic aspect in some stretches (proximal zone), but its recent deterioration has been very important: the separation of its two main lobes and the isolation of the highest and eastern sector (under Punta Oliveras) could occur in few years. The spatial patterns of retreat can be seen very clearly, as the glacier loses its thickness, the important influence exerted by the preferred fracturing lines present in the circus: in some sections the glacier retreats on the surface and fragments strictly following those reticles, probably due to processes of over-accumulation or circulation of fusion water subglacially along these lines, which act as small topographic steps (this fact is very evident in the eastern lobe, which is degrading more accentuated).

The Barrancs glacier maintains some transverse cracks in its proximal part, of very shallow depth and associated with the steep slopes of that section of the glacier box, but it has experienced a strong loss of thickness in recent years that bring it closer to the status of helero. Noteworthy is the gradual development of a layer of debris covering the most distal and central part of the apparatus.

The dynamism of the western glacier of Tempestades is currently very low, although longitudinal and transverse traction cracks are still observable in it (especially in the westernmost part of the apparatus). A relatively powerful debris cover begins to be observed already in different sectors of the glacier.

Finally, the small glacier-helero of Coronas maintains a practically null dynamic, although it still presents on the surface some cracks of traction of depth and length very reduced. In this case, too, we can see the presence of relatively powerful washout layers, associated with the falling of blocks from the nearby glacier box and the extrusion of englacial material, located in the distal area of ​​the apparatus, mainly at its southernmost end.

Since 1981, the evolution of surface extension has been clearly regressive in all apparatuses and, in some, particularly dramatic: 1) the western and eastern glaciers of the Maladeta formed a single glacier in 1981, with an area of ​​48.90 ha (100%) that has been reduced to 37.73 ha (the sum of the two current fragments: Occidental de la Maladeta, 6.22 ha, Oriental de la Maladeta, 31.51 ha) (77.1% of its extension) initial); its DAM is +18 m (in this case, this parameter has been calculated by averaging the current altitudinal values ​​of the two glaciers and comparing this data with the altitude value of the glacier in 1981); 2) the Aneto glacier occupied an area of ​​106.77 ha (100%), which has been reduced to 69.10 ha (64.7% of its initial extension); the registered DAM has been +38 m; 3) the Barrancs glacier went from 22.49 ha (100%) to 7.12 ha (31.6% of its initial extension); its DAM is +86 m; 4) the western glacier of Tempestades has gone from 28.79 ha (100%) to 9.30 ha (32.3% of its initial extension); its DAM is +42 m; 5) the glaciar-helero de Coronas has been reduced in size from 10.57 ha (100%) in 1981 to the current 2.49 ha (23.5% of its original length); the registered DAM was +87 m.

The total current extent of ice in the massif, 125.74 ha, represents 52.2% of the existing in 1981 (240.62 ha, 23.1 ha have been added corresponding to the already discontinued Alba appliances, Western and Eastern Salenques, Western and Eastern Cregüeña and Llosás), ranking fourth among the four clumps analyzed in this work in the percentage of surface loss. The annual rate of surface loss for the massif is 4.59 ha a-1, and its DAM, of +54.2 m. It remains framed in the category of massifs with authentic large glaciers