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Observations of seasonal and diurnal glacier velocities at Mount Rainier, Washington using terrestrial radar interferometry

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Author(s): Kate E. Allstadt, David E. Shean, A Campbell, Mark A. Fahnestock, Stephen D. Malone

Document Type:
Publisher: The Cryosphere Discussions
Published Year: 2015
Volume: 9
Pages: 4067 to 4116
DOI Identifier: 10.5194/tcd-9-4067-2015
ISBN Identifier:

We present spatially continuous velocity maps using repeat terrestrial radar interferometry (TRI) measurements to examine seasonal and diurnal dynamics of alpine glaciers at Mount Rainier, Washington. We show that the Nisqually and Emmons glaciers have small slope-parallel velocities near the summit (<0.2 m day-1), high velocities over their upper and central regions (1.0-1.5 m day-1), and stagnant debris-covered regions near the terminus (< 0.05 m day-1). Velocity uncertainties are as low as ± 0.02 - 0.08 m day-1. We document a large seasonal velocity decrease of 0.2 - 0.7 m day-1 (-25 to -50 %) from July to November for most of the Nisqually glacier, excluding the icefall, suggesting significant seasonal subglacial water storage under most of the glacier. We did not detect diurnal variability above the noise level. Preliminary 2-D ice flow modeling using TRI velocities suggests that sliding accounts for roughly 91 and 99% of the July velocity field for the Emmons and Nisqually glaciers, respectively. We validate our observations against recent in situ velocity measurements and examine the long-term evolution of Nisqually glacier dynamics through comparisons with historical velocity data. This study shows that repeat TRI measurements with >10 km range can be used to investigate spatial and temporal variability of alpine glacier dynamics over large areas, including hazardous and inaccessible areas.

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Suggested Citations:
In Text Citation:
Allstadt and others (2015) or (Allstadt et al., 2015)

References Citation:
Allstadt, K.E., D.E. Shean, A. Campbell, M.A. Fahnestock, and S.D. Malone, 2015, Observations of seasonal and diurnal glacier velocities at Mount Rainier, Washington using terrestrial radar interferometry: The Cryosphere Discussions, Vol. 9, pp. 4067-4116, doi: 10.5194/tcd-9-4067-2015.