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Distribution and transportation of mercury from glacier to lake in the Qiangyong Glacier Basin, southern Tibetan Plateau, China

Shiwei Sun , Shichang Kang , Jie Huang , Chengding Li , Junming Guo , Qianggong Zhang , Xuejun Sun , Lekhendra Tripathee


Received July 15, 2015,Revised September 10, 2015, Accepted September 28, 2015, Available online January 23, 2016

Volume 28,2016,Pages 213-223

The Tibetan Plateau is home to the largest aggregate of glaciers outside the Polar Regions and is a source of fresh water to 1.4 billion people. Yet little is known about the transportation and cycling of Hg in high-elevation glacier basins on Tibetan Plateau. In this study, surface snow, glacier melting stream water and lake water samples were collected from the Qiangyong Glacier Basin. The spatiotemporal distribution and transportation of Hg from glacier to lake were investigated. Significant diurnal variations of dissolved Hg (DHg) concentrations were observed in the river water, with low concentrations in the morning (8:00 am–14:00 pm) and high concentrations in the afternoon (16:00 pm–20:00 pm). The DHg concentrations were exponentially correlated with runoff, which indicated that runoff was the dominant factor affecting DHg concentrations in the river water. Moreover, significant decreases of Hg were observed during transportation from glacier to lake. DHg adsorption onto particulates followed by the sedimentation of particulate-bound Hg (PHg) could be possible as an important Hg removal mechanism during the transportation process. Significant decreases in Hg concentrations were observed downstream of Xiao Qiangyong Lake, which indicated that the high-elevation lake system could significantly affect the distribution and transportation of Hg in the Qiangyong Glacier Basin.

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