Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Growth and collapse of the distributed subglacial hydrologic system of Kennicott Glacier, Alaska, USA, and its effects on basal motion

  • Timothy C. Bartholomaus (a1) (a2) (a3) (a4), Robert S. Anderson (a3) (a4) and Suzanne P. Anderson (a3) (a5)

Abstract

Nearly 100 days of hourly glacier motion, hydrology and hydrochemistry measurements on Kennicott Glacier, Alaska, USA, demonstrate the complicated relationship between water and motion at the glacier bed. Our observations capture the transient glacier response to seasonal and daily melt cycles, and to a jökulhlaup that prompts a sixfold increase in glacier speed. Sliding is promoted whenever the water inputs to the glacier exceed the capacity of the subglacial hydrologic system to transmit the water. Sensitivity of sliding to daily meltwater inputs varies strongly through the season, implying that the state of the hydrologic system governs the sensitivity of basal sliding. A numerical model constructed to explore these relationships reveals: the roles of the effective pressure; the exponent to which this is taken in the ‘sliding law’ (0.1 <γ< 0.6); glacier macroporosity (φ < 2%); and the ‘cavity-generating capacity’ of the glacier bed, which encapsulates the sizes and spacing of bed roughness elements. Temporal changes in the effective pressure associated with evolution of both water inputs and subglacial water transmission capacity can explain the varying strength of diurnal velocity fluctuations of Kennicott Glacier. Spatial patterns of glacier macroporosity and of basal roughness govern variation in sensitivity of sliding to water inputs.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Growth and collapse of the distributed subglacial hydrologic system of Kennicott Glacier, Alaska, USA, and its effects on basal motion
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Growth and collapse of the distributed subglacial hydrologic system of Kennicott Glacier, Alaska, USA, and its effects on basal motion
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Growth and collapse of the distributed subglacial hydrologic system of Kennicott Glacier, Alaska, USA, and its effects on basal motion
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

References

Hide All
Anderson, R.S. and 6 others. 2004. Strong feedbacks between hydrology and sliding of a small alpine glacier. J. Geophys. Res, 109(F3), F03005. (10.1029/2004JF000120.)
Anderson, R.S., Walder, J.S., Anderson, S.P., Trabant, D.C. and Fountain, A.G.. 2005. The dynamic response of Kennicott Glacier, Alaska, USA, to the Hidden Creek Lake outburst flood. Ann. Glaciol, 40, 237242.
Anderson, S.P., Fernald, K.M.H., Anderson, R.S. and Humphrey, N.F.. 1999. Physical and chemical characterization of a spring flood event, Bench Glacier, Alaska, U.S.A.: evidence for water storage. J. Glaciol, 45(150), 177189.
Anderson, S.P. and 6 others. 2003a. Integrated hydrologic and hydrochemical observations of Hidden Creek Lake jökulhlaups, Kennicott Glacier, Alaska. J. Geophys. Res, 108(F1), 6003. (10.1029/2002JF000004.)
Anderson, S.P., Longacre, S.A. and Kraal, E.R.. 2003b. Patterns of water chemistry and discharge in the glacier-fed Kennicott River, Alaska: evidence for subglacial water storage cycles. Chemical Geol, 202(3–4), 297312.
Bartholomaus, T.C., Anderson, R.S. and Anderson, S.P.. 2008. Response of glacier basal motion to transient water storage. Nature Geosci, 1(1), 3337.
Bartholomew, I., Nienow, P., Mair, D., Hubbard, A., King, M.A. and Sole, A.. 2010. Seasonal evolution of subglacial drainage and acceleration in a Greenland outlet glacier. Nature Geosci, 3(6), 408411.
Bindschadler, R. 1983. The importance of pressurized subglacial water in separation and sliding at the glacier bed. J. Glaciol, 29(101), 319.
Bradford, J.H., Nichols, J., Mikesell, T.D. and Harper, J.T.. 2009. Continuous profiles of electromagnetic wave velocity and water content in glaciers: an example from Bench Glacier, Alaska, USA. Ann. Glaciol, 50(51), 19.
Clarke, G.K.C. 2003. Hydraulics of subglacial outburst floods: new insights from the Spring–Hutter formulation. J. Glaciol, 49(165), 299313.
Colgan, W. and 7 others. 2011. The annual glaciohydrology cycle in the ablation zone of the Greenland ice sheet: Part 1. Hydrology model. J. Glaciol, 57(204), 697709.
Cuffey, K.M. and Paterson, W.S.B.. 2010. The physics of glaciers. Fourth edition. Oxford, Butterworth-Heinemann.
Echelmeyer, K. and Harrison, W.D.. 1990. Jakobshavns Isbræ, West Greenland: seasonal variations in velocity – or lack thereof. J. Glaciol, 36(122), 8288.
Fountain, A.G. and Walder, J.S.. 1998. Water flow through temperate glaciers. Rev. Geophys, 36(3), 299328.
Fudge, T.J., Harper, J.T., Humphrey, N.F. and Pfeffer, W.T.. 2005. Diurnal water-pressure fluctuations: timing and pattern of termination below Bench Glacier, Alaska, USA. Ann. Glaciol, 40, 102106.
Gregorius, T. 1996. GIPSY OASIS II: how it works. Newcastle upon Tyne, University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Department of Geomatics.
Harper, J.T., Humphrey, N.F., Pfeffer, W.T., Fudge, T. and O’Neel, S.. 2005. Evolution of subglacial water pressure along a glacier’s length. Ann. Glaciol, 40, 3136.
Harper, J.T., Humphrey, N.F., Pfeffer, W.T. and Lazar, B.. 2007. Two modes of accelerated glacier sliding related to water. Geophys. Res. Lett, 34(12), L12503. (10.1029/2007GL030233.)
Harper, J.T., Bradford, J.H., Humphrey, N.F. and Meierbachtol, T.W.. 2010. Vertical extension of the subglacial drainage system into basal crevasses. Nature, 467(7315), 579582.
Heinrichs, T.A., Mayo, L.R., Echelmeyer, K.A. and Harrison, W.D.. 1996. Quiescent-phase evolution of a surge-type glacier: Black Rapids Glacier, Alaska, U.S.A. J. Glaciol, 42(140), 110122.
Hock, R., Iken, A. and Wangler, A.. 1999. Tracer experiments and borehole observations in the overdeepening of Aletschgletscher, Switzerland. Ann. Glaciol, 28, 253260.
Hooke, R.LeB., Calla, P., Holmlund, P., Nilsson, M. and Stroeven, A.. 1989. A 3 year record of seasonal variations in surface velocity, Storglaciären, Sweden. J. Glaciol, 35(120), 235247.
Howat, I.M., Tulaczyk, S., Waddington, E. and Björnsson, H.. 2008. Dynamic controls on glacier basal motion inferred from surface ice motion. J. Geophys. Res, 113(F3), F03015. (10.1029/2007JF000925.)
Hubbard, B.P., Sharp, M.J., Willis, I.C., Nielsen, M.K. and Smart, C.C.. 1995. Borehole water-level variations and the structure of the subglacial hydrological system of Haut Glacier d’Arolla, Valais, Switzerland. J. Glaciol, 41(139), 572583.
Iken, A. and Bindschadler, R.A.. 1986. Combined measurements of subglacial water pressure and surface velocity of Findelengletscher, Switzerland: conclusions about drainage system and sliding mechanism. J. Glaciol, 32(110), 101119.
Iken, A. and Truffer, M.. 1997. The relationship between sub-glacial water pressure and velocity of Findelengletscher, Switzerland, during its advance and retreat. J. Glaciol, 43(144), 328338.
Iken, A., Röthlisberger, H., Flotron, A. and Haeberli, W.. 1983. The uplift of Unteraargletscher at the beginning of the melt season – a consequence of water storage at the bed? J. Glaciol, 29(101), 2847.
Jansson, P. 1995. Water pressure and basal sliding on Storglaciären, northern Sweden. J. Glaciol, 41(138), 232240.
Joughin, I., Das, S.B., King, M.A., Smith, B.E., Howat, I.M. and Moon, T.. 2008. Seasonal speedup along the western flank of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Science, 320(5877), 781783.
Julien, P.Y. 1995. Erosion and sedimentation. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Kamb, B. 1987. Glacier surge mechanism based on linked cavity configuration of the basal water conduit system. J. Geophys. Res, 92(B9), 90839100.
Kessler, M.A. and Anderson, R.S.. 2004. Testing a numerical glacial hydrological model using spring speed-up events and outburst floods. Geophys. Res. Lett, 31(18), L18503. (10.1029/2004GL020622.)
Knight, P.G. and Tweed, F.S.. 1991. Periodic drainage of ice-dammed lakes as a result of variations in glacier velocity. Hydrol. Process, 5(2), 175184.
Mair, D., Nienow, P., Willis, I. and Sharp, M.. 2001. Spatial patterns of glacier motion during a high-velocity event: Haut Glacier d’Arolla, Switzerland. J. Glaciol, 47(156), 920.
Mair, D., Nienow, P., Sharp, M., Wohlleben, T. and Willis, I.. 2002. Influence of subglacial drainage system evolution on glacier surface motion: Haut Glacier d’Arolla, Switzerland. J. Geophys. Res, 107(B8), 2175. (10.1029/2001JB000514.)
Mallikamas, W. and Rajaram, H.. 2005. On the anisotropy of the aperture correlation and effective transmissivity in fractures generated by sliding between identical self-affine surfaces. Geophys. Res. Lett, 32(11), L11401. (10.1029/2005GL022859.)
Moore, P.L. and Iverson, N.R.. 2002. Slow episodic shear of granular materials regulated by dilatant strengthening. Geology, 30(9), 843846.
Nienow, P., Sharp, M. and Willis, I.. 1998. Seasonal changes in the morphology of the subglacial drainage system, Haut Glacier d’Arolla, Switzerland. Earth Surf. Process. Landf, 23(9), 825843.
Nye, J.F. 1976. Water flow in glaciers: jökulhlaups, tunnels and veins. J. Glaciol, 17(76), 181207.
Parizek, B.R. and Alley, R.B.. 2004. Implications of increased Greenland surface melt under global-warming scenarios: ice-sheet simulations. Quat. Sci. Rev, 23(9–10), 10131027.
Pfeffer, W.T. 2007. A simple mechanism for irreversible tidewater glacier retreat. J. Geophys. Res, 112(F3), F03S25. (10.1029/2006JF000590.)
Pimentel, S., Flowers, G.E. and Schoof, C.G.. 2010. A hydrologically coupled higher-order flow-band model of ice dynamics with a Coulomb friction sliding law. J. Geophys. Res, 115(F4), F04023. (10.1029/2009JF001621.)
Pohjola, V.A. 1994. TV-video observations of englacial voids in Storglaciären, Sweden. J. Glaciol, 40(135), 231240.
Raymond, C.F., Benedict, R.J., Harrison, W.D., Echelmeyer, K.A. and Sturm, M.. 1995. Hydrological discharges and motion of Fels and Black Rapids Glaciers, Alaska, U.S.A.: implications for the structure of their drainage systems. J. Glaciol, 41(138), 290304.
Rickman, R.L. and Rosenkrans, D.S.. 1997. Hydrologic conditions and hazards in the Kennicott River Basin, Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. USGS Water-Resour. Invest. Rep 96-4296.
Röthlisberger, H. 1972. Water pressure in intra- and subglacial channels. J. Glaciol, 11(62), 177203.
Schoof, C. 2005. The effect of cavitation on glacier sliding. Proc. R. Soc. London, Ser. A, 461(2055), 609627.
Schoof, C. 2010. Ice-sheet acceleration driven by melt supply variability. Nature, 468(7325), 803806.
Shepherd, A., Hubbard, A., Nienow, P., McMillan, M. and Joughin, I.. 2009. Greenland ice sheet motion coupled with daily melting in late summer. Geophys. Res. Lett, 36(1), L01501. (10.1029/2008GL035758.)
Sole, A.J. and 6 others. 2011. Seasonal speedup of a Greenland marine-terminating outlet glacier forced by surface melt– induced changes in subglacial hydrology. J. Geophys. Res, 116(F3), F03014. (10.1029/2010JF001948.)
Sugiyama, S. and Gudmundsson, G.H.. 2004. Short-term variations in glacier flow controlled by subglacial water pressure at Lauteraargletscher, Bernese Alps, Switzerland. J. Glaciol, 50(170), 353362.
Sugiyama, S., Bauder, A., Weiss, P. and Funk, M.. 2007. Reversal of ice motion during the outburst of a glacier-dammed lake on Gornergletscher, Switzerland. J. Glaciol, 53(181), 172180.
Truffer, M., Motyka, R.J., Hekkers, M., Howat, I.M. and King, M.A.. 2009. Terminus dynamics at an advancing glacier: Taku Glacier, Alaska. J. Glaciol, 55(194), 10521060.
Vieli, A., Funk, M. and Blatter, H.. 2001. Flow dynamics of tidewater glaciers: a numerical modelling approach. J. Glaciol, 47(159), 595606.
Walder, J.S. and 6 others. 2006. Local response of a glacier to annual filling and drainage of an ice-marginal lake. J. Glaciol, 52(178), 440450.
Willis, I.C. 1995. Intra-annual variations in glacier motion: a review. Progr. Phys. Geogr, 19(1), 61106.

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed