Velocity Variations of the Kaskawulsh Glacier, Yukon Territory, 2009-2011

Title: Velocity Variations of the Kaskawulsh Glacier, Yukon Territory, 2009-2011
Authors: Darling, Samantha
Date: 2012
Abstract: Laser altimetry and satellite gravity surveys indicate that the St Elias Icefields are currently losing mass and are among the largest non-polar sea level contributors in the world. However, a poor understanding of glacier dynamics in the region is a major hurdle in evaluating regional variations in ice motion and the relationship between changing surface conditions and ice flux. This study combines in-situ dGPS measurements and advanced Radarsat-2 (RS-2) processing techniques to determine daily and seasonal ice velocities for the Kaskawulsh Glacier from summer 2009 to summer 2011. Three permanent dGPS stations were installed along the centreline of the glacier in 2009, with an additional permanent station on the South Arm in 2010. The Precise Point Positioning (PPP) method is used to process the dGPS data using high accuracy orbital reconstruction. RS-2 imagery was acquired on a 24-day cycle from January to March 2010, and from October to March 2010-2011 in a combination of ultra-fine and fine beam modes. Seasonal velocity regimes are readily identifiable in the dGPS results, with distinct variations in both horizontal velocity and vertical motion. The Spring Regime consists of an annual peak in horizontal velocity that corresponds closely with the onset of the melt season and progresses up-glacier, following the onset of melt at each station. The Summer Regime sees variable horizontal velocity and vertical uplift, superimposed on a long-term decline in motion. The Fall Regime sees a gradual slowing at all stations with little variation in horizontal velocity or vertical position. Rapid but short accelerations lasting up to 10 days were seen in the Winter regimes in both 2010 and 2011, occurring at various times throughout each regime. These events initiated at the Upper Station and progress down-glacier at propagation speeds up to 16,380 m day-1 and were accompanied by vertical uplift lasting for similar periods. Three velocity maps, one from the winter of 2010 and two from the fall/winter of 2011, produced from speckle tracking were validated by comparison with dGPS velocity, surface flow direction, and bedrock areas of zero motion, with an average velocity error of 2.0% and average difference in orientation of 4.3º.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -