Well-developed surface channels on Taylor Glacier, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, begin as medial moraines incised as shallow, narrow surface depressions, and retain this geometry for tens of km. Over a distance of 1100 m, the channel geometry dramatically changes, reaching depths >20m and widths >100 m. After rapidly enlarging, the channels appear to evolve toward a new equilibrium geometry. Compared to the glacier surface, the air temperature in the channels is warmer by ∼1.7˚C, wind speed is reduced by ∼2.4ms–1 and net shortwave radiation is greater by ∼14Wm–2. The microclimate in the channel shifts the energy balance towards enhanced melt. Field evidence and energy-balance modeling indicate ablation in the deep channels is ∼4.5 times greater than the local horizontal glacier surface and that melt accounts for ∼99% of the summer ablation, compared to ∼75% on the adjacent horizontal glacier surface. Melt in these channels supplies 65% of the unaccounted water discharge into the neighboring lake. In large part, the channels generate the water they carry, rather than merely route water generated elsewhere.