Santa Cruz Province, Argentine Patagonia – November 14th, 200947.7S 65.8W
Santa Cruz is a province of Argentina, located in the southern part of the country, in Patagonia. It borders Chubut province to the north, and Chile to the west and south. To the east is the Atlantic Ocean. It is the second largest province of the country, but the least densely populated of the Argentine mainland.
The average temperatures are 13°C in summer, and 3° in winter, when temperatures can fall to -25°. Strong winds blow all year round.
To the west, the Andes at these latitudes are lower than in the centre and north of Argentina, but still have year-round snow. An immense ice sheet feeds numerous glaciers. Even though precipitation in this western ice-sheet area is common, rain is scarce in other areas, with an average of 200 mm per year.
The lakes in western Santa Cruz province are mostly fed by glacieal melt-water; however, due to the cold climate their shores are not used for agriculture. The largest include Buenos Aires Lake (2,240 km², of which 881 km² is in Argentina), Cardiel Lake (460 km²), Viedma Lake (1082 km²), Argentino Lake (1560 km²), Pueyrredón Lake, Belgrano Lake and San Martín Lake (1.013 km²) are all in the west of the province.
The Atlantic coastline is a mixture of beaches and cliffs. From the centre to the Atlantic coast in the east, plateaux of descending height dominate the landscape. The cold, arid steppe is crossed by rivers that produce fertile valleys; Deseado River, Santa Cruz River, Gallegos River, Coyle River, Chico River and Pinturas River.
Here, the Deseado River can be seen crossing the upper half of the image horizontally and spilling greenish sediments into the Atlantic Ocean. Its source is the glacier-thaw of Buenos Aires Lake, visible as a large, dark blue body of water due west of the river along the mountainous border with Chile.
Further down the shoreline, the Santa Cruz and Chico Rivers create a large delta from which more sediments flow into the ocean. The source of the Santa Cruz Rivers begins at the shore of the Viedma and Argentino Lakes (both visible although partially covered by clouds west of the delta.