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    Patagonian glacier in rapid retreat

    By Jonathan Amos

    One of South America's leading natural tourist destinations, the San Rafael Glacier in Chile, is retreating at an alarming rate, say UK scientists.

    Located in a World Heritage Site, the glacier draws thousands of visitors each year to marvel at the way icebergs calve into the sea from its front wall.

    But Dr Neil Glasser and colleagues say rapid melting is now under way because of historically high air temperatures.

    They warn that if the glacier withdraws on to the land, tourism will suffer.

    "This glacier is not only in a World Heritage Site, it is also in a Unesco biosphere reserve and huge national park," Dr Glasser, from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, told BBC News Online.

    "If the glacier retreats further up valley, it will cease to calve icebergs into the Laguna San Rafael, and one of the reasons why this area attracts so many tourists will be largely gone."