Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 1941–1953 | Cite as

Distribution and vertical migration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in forest soil pits of southeastern Tibet

  • Yonggang Xue
  • Xiaoping WangEmail author
  • Ping Gong
  • Tandong Yao
Original Paper


PAHs could be transported to Tibetan Plateau in accompany with atmospheric circulation. The forest regions were found be an important sink for PAHs, while their distributions and migrations in forest are still uncertain. In this study, soil profile samples were collected in southeastern Tibet and the concentrations, distributions, and migration of PAHs in forest region were investigated. The PAHs levels in the forest soils were at the low end of remote sites, ranged from 27.4 to 120.3 ng g−1 on a dry weight based. Due to low ambient temperature and high organic carbon content, enrichment of PAHs was found in higher altitude on north side. According to the soil profiles, the vertical distributions of PAHs in organic layers were mainly influenced by pedogenesis, while the vertical distributions in mineral layers were dominated by downward leaching effect. Enrich factor (EF) of PAHs was estimated, and the values in organic layers were positively correlated with the octanol–air partition coefficients (K OA), but EFs in mineral layers decreased with the K OA values. PAHs in the surface soils on the north side of forest were relatively stable, while the migration of PAHs on the south sides and other clearing sites was more active. The leaching rates of PAHs in clearing site ranged between 1.42 and 29.3%. The results from this study are valuable on the characterization of PAHs in Tibetan Plateau.


PAHs Forest soil Southeastern Tibet Vertical migration 



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41071321 and 41671480) and Youth Innovation Promotion Association (CAS2011067). We would like to thank all supporting staffs at the Southeastern Tibet Observation and Research Station for providing an alpine environment and assisting the sample collections on fields.

Supplementary material

10653_2017_9969_MOESM1_ESM.docx (229 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 228 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Key Lab of Aerosol Chemistry and Physics, SKLLQG, Institute of Earth EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina

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