Measurements of short-interval variations in glacier surface velocity, which contribute to our understanding of ice motion mechanisms, remain scarce on the Tibetan Plateau. Here we present sub-hourly measurements of glacier surface motion variations at the terminus region of Laohugou No. 12 Glacier. Field observations were collected over 4 d in July 2015 from terrestrial radar interferometry. The observed glacier displacement time series are generally in agreement with the results measured by differential GPS and highlight that glacier surface velocity is characterized by clear diurnal fluctuations in the study period. During day-time hours, glacier flow speeds were higher than 3.0 mm h−1, whereas they were below 1.0 mm h−1 during night-time hours. The large diurnal fluctuations of glacier surface velocity indicate that variations in basal slip are the dominant motion mechanism. Moreover, a positive correlation (R = 0.82, P < 0.001) between air temperature and glacier surface velocity suggests that glacier motion variations are probably affected by changes in air temperature during the ablation season.