Winter speed-up of quiescent surge-type glaciers in Yukon, Canada
- Department of Natural History Sciences, Graduate School of Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
Abstract. Glacier surges often initiate in winter, but the mechanism remains unclear in contrast to the well-known summer speed-up at normal glaciers. To better understand the mechanism, we used radar images to examine spatial-temporal changes in the ice velocity of surge-type glaciers near the border of Alaska and the Yukon, focusing on their quiescent phase. We found significant accelerations in the upstream region from autumn to winter, regardless of surging episodes. Moreover, the winter speed-up propagated from upstream to downstream. Given the absence of surface meltwater input in winter, we suggest the presence of water storage near the base that does not directly connect to the surface, yet can promote basal sliding through increased water pressure. Our findings have implications for the modelling of glacial hydrology in winter, which may help us better understand glacier dynamics.