Slow surge of Trapridge Glacier, Yukon Territory, 1951-2005

Tom-Pierre Frappe-Seneclauze
Trapridge Glacier, a surging glacier located in the St. Elias Mountains, Yukon Territory, Canada, went through a complete surge cycle between 1951 and 2005. Air photos (1951-1981) and groundbased optical surveys (1969-2005) are used to describe the modifications in flow and geometry that occurred over this period. The acceleration of flow during the surge is detected by repeated measurement of poles drilled into the ice. Between 1974 and 1980, the median velocity in the lower basin went from
more » ... 6ma⁻¹ to 38.6ma⁻¹. Downstream from this zone of active flow, coldbased ice accumulated during the previous surge impeded the flow, and a steep front formed at the boundary between the two ice masses. Over the following ten years, this bulge propagated downglacier, advancing faster than the ice and integrating stagnant ice by continuous deformation. After it peaked in 1984, the flow in the lower basin remained above 25ma⁻¹ for 12 years, but was on a slowing trend. The slowdown followed strangely regular 4-year pulses: 1-2 years of timid acceleration (2-3ma⁻¹) , followed by 2-3 years of rapid deceleration (4-8ma⁻¹) . The 1997-1999 acceleration was particularly vigorous, as the median velocity went from 20.3ma⁻¹ to 28.5ma⁻¹. After this last pulse, the glacier gradually slowed down to pre-surge velocities. In 2005, the lower basin was flowing at less than 8.5ma⁻¹. Based on this flow history, I divide the 1969-2005 period into three parts: the activation phase (1969-1974), the surge (1980-1999), and the waning phase (1999-2005). To quantify the geometrical changes that occurred during each phase, digital elevation models are constructed from air photos and optical survey measurements. Optical and radar surveys are joined to photogrammetric measurements of the proglacial field to obtain a bed topography map. DEMs for 1951, 1970, 1972, 1977, and 1981 are generated by stereographic analysis of air photos. These background models are then updated year after year by ground-based survey data, using a Bayesia [...]
doi:10.14288/1.0052585 fatcat:u2xcs4f3azgvjce5t2dcwpyexy