Exploiting high-slip flow regimes to improve inference of glacier bed topography

Alexi Morin, Gwenn E. Flowers, Andrew Nolan, Douglas Brinkerhoff, Etienne Berthier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Theory and observation show that glacier-flow regimes characterized by high basal slip enhance the projection of topographic detail to the surface, motivating this investigation into the efficacy of using glacier surges to improve bed estimation. Here we adapt a Bayesian inversion scheme and apply it to real and synthetic data as a proof of concept. Synthetic tests show a reduction in mean RMSE between true and inferred beds by more than half, and an increase in the mean correlation coefficient of ~0.5, when data from slip- versus deformation-dominated regimes are used. Multi-epoch inversions, which partition slip- and deformation-dominated regimes, are shown to outperform inversions that average over these flow regimes thereby squandering information. Tests with real data from a surging glacier in Yukon, Canada, corroborate these results, while highlighting the challenges of limited or inconsistent data. With the growing torrent of satellite-based observations, fast-flow events such as glacier surges offer potential to improve bed estimation for some of the world's most dynamic glaciers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)658-664
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Issue number275
StatePublished - Jun 19 2023


  • Glacier modelling
  • glacier surges
  • ice dynamics
  • ice thickness measurements
  • mountain glaciers


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