Spatial variations and sources of trace elements in recent snow from glaciers at the Tibetan Plateau
Trace elements (TEs) could pose a potential threat to the environment and human health and hence they have been paid attention increasingly at present. This study presents the acid-leached concentrations of TEs (e.g., Al, As, Ba, Co, Cr, Cs, Cu, Fe, Li, Mn, Mo, Pb, Rb, Sb, Sr, Ti, Tl, U, V) and dust content sampled from Qiumianleike (QMLK), Meikuang (MK), Yuzhufeng (YZF), Xiaodongkemadi (XDKMD), Gurenhekou (GRHK) glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau (TP) from April to May in 2013. A nonparametric Jonckheere-Terpstra Method was used to test the trend of spatial distribution of TEs. The statistical analysis indicates that TEs were the highest in the QMLK glacier, lowest in the YZF glacier, and comparable in the other three glaciers. Comparison with other glaciers of the plateau, the statistical analysis on As, Cu, Mo, Pb, and Sb shows that their concentrations had, in general, a decreasing distribution characteristic from the north to the south of TP, which indicates that the northern TP is loading more atmospheric-polluted impurity than central and southern TP. Enrichment factor (EF) analysis indicates that Rb, V, U, Cr, Ba, Cs, Li, As, Co, Mn, Tl, Sr, and Cu originated mainly from crustal dust, while anthropogenic inputs such as nonferrous metals melting, coal combustion, and traffic emission made an important contribution to the Mo, Pb, and Sb. Evidences from air mass back trajectories show that TEs in the five studied glaciers might not only come from surrounding areas of glaciers but also might be long-range transported by atmosphere from the Central Asia and South Asia and deposited on these glaciers.
KeywordsTrace elements Spatial variation Sources Snow Tibetan Plateau
This study is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41276194, 40771046, 40601021). Thanks are owed to the Spring 2013 field work team on the Tibetan Plateau for their hard field work. We also appreciate two anonymous referees very much for their good reviews and suggestions for improving the paper.
- Chen W, Li Y, Qi S, Zhang C (2000) Distribution of nonferrous metallic mineral resources in Qinghai-Tibet plateau. Acta Geoscientica Sinica 21(1):26–37 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
- Lee CSL, Li XD, Zhang G, Li J, Ding A, Wang T (2007) Heavy metals and Pb isotopic composition of aerosols in urban and suburban areas of Hong Kong and Guangzhou, South China—evidence of the long-range transport of air contaminants. Atmos Environ 41(2):432–447. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2006.07.035 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Li Y, Tian L, Shi X, Yao T (2012) The composition characteristics and environmental significance of trace elements in the firn core of Qiangyong glacier, southern Qinghai-Tibetan plateau. Geochimica 41(2):181–187 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
- Li Y, Li Z, Huang J, Cozzi G, Turetta C, Barbante C, Xiong L (2017) Variations of trace elements and rare earth elements (REEs) treated by two different methods for snow-pit samples on the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau and their implications. Sci Cold Arid Regions 9(6):1–12. https://doi.org/10.3724/SP.J.1226.2017.00000
- Liu Y, Hou S, Li Y, Li Z, Wang Y (2008) The acid-cleaning method of labwares of analysis of ultra low concentration heavy metals in antarctic and arctic snow and ice samples. J Glaciol Geocryol 30(6):1007–1012 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
- Shi X, Li Y, Li Z, Wang W (2011) The seasonal variations and sources of trace elements in head water glacier NO. 1 in Urumqi, east Tian-Shan. Environ Chem 30(9):1636–1642 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
- Wang Y, Zhang X, Draxler RR (2009) TrajStat: GIS-based software that uses various trajectory statistical analysis methods to identify potential sources from long-term air pollution measurement data. Environ Model Softw 24(8):938–939. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsoft.2009.01.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Xiong L, Li Y, Li Z (2015) Comparative study of trace elements in snow pit from Xiaodongkemadi glacier in Tanggula mountain based on two sample preparation method. Environ Chem 34(3):520–528 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
- You C, Yao T, Wu G (2014) Research progress on biomass burning records in snow and ice. Advance in Earth Sciences 29(6):662–673. https://doi.org/10.11867/j.issn.1001-8166.2014.06.0662 (in Chinese)