Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 2377–2388 | Cite as

Comparison between snowmelt-runoff and rainfall-runoff nonpoint source pollution in a typical urban catchment in Beijing, China

  • Lei Chen
  • Xiaosha Zhi
  • Zhenyao ShenEmail author
  • Ying Dai
  • Guzhanuer Aini
Research Article


As a climate-driven event, nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is caused by rainfall- or snowmelt-runoff processes; however, few studies have compared the characteristics and mechanisms of these two kinds of NPS processes. In this study, three factors relating to urban NPS, including surface dust, snowmelt, and rainfall-runoff processes, were analyzed comprehensively by both field sampling and laboratory experiments. The seasonal variation and leaching characteristics of pollutants in surface dust were explored, and the runoff quality of snowmelt NPS and rainfall NPS were compared. The results indicated that dusts are the main sources of urban NPS and more pollutants are deposited in dust samples during winter and spring. However, pollutants in surface dust showed a low leaching ratio, which indicated most NPS pollutants would be carried as particulate forms. Compared to surface layer, underlying snow contained higher chemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids (TSS), Cu, Fe, Mn, and Pb concentrations, while the event mean concentration of most pollutants in snowmelt tended to be higher in roads. Moreover, the TSS and heavy metal content of snowmelt NPS was always higher than those of rainfall NPS, which indicated the importance of controlling snowmelt pollution for effective water quality management.


Nonpoint source pollution Urban Snowmelt Rainfall-runoff Dust Leaching experiment 



This research was funded by the State Key Program of National Natural Science of China (no. 41530635), the Fund for Innovative Research Group of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 51421065), and Open Foundation of the State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology of China (no. SKLURE2017-2-2).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Water Environment Simulation, School of EnvironmentBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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