Geomorphological and geomorphometrical characterization of subglacial channels on Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada
Abstract. Subglacial channels are morphologically and morphometrically distinct in comparison to fluvial channels, yet their identification from remote sensing data is still problematic. To contribute to the current set of criteria used to identify such channels, we performed detailed field observations of two subglacial channel networks on Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada. In planform, these channels are isolated, finger-like networks that drain into a main stem and have distinct cross-sectional and longitudinal profiles. Cross-sections are flat-bottomed with steep walls and longitudinal profiles are convex and exhibit undulations, typical of pressurized water flow (i.e., subglacial flow). To facilitate remote sensing identification, we interrogated how well-known scaling relationships capturing hydraulics and mass balance dynamics of fluvial systems differ in subglacial channels. Scaling relationships typically used to discern connections between discharge and channel and catchment size in fluvial systems were applied to both networks, yielding trends distinct from the fluvial literature. We suggest that the weakly correlated relationship we found between channel discharge and the size of the drainage area indicates a discrete point or line source of water, such as a moulin or crevasse.
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