Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 16, pp 16457–16469 | Cite as

Concentration, spatiotemporal distribution, and sources of mercury in Mt. Yulong, a remote site in southeastern Tibetan Plateau

  • Rukumesh Paudyal
  • Shichang KangEmail author
  • Lekhendra Tripathee
  • Junming Guo
  • Chhatra Mani Sharma
  • Jie Huang
  • Hewen Niu
  • Shiwei Sun
  • Tao Pu
Research Article


The unique geographic location of Mt. Yulong in the Tibetan Plateau (TP) makes it a favorable site for mercury (Hg) study. Various snow samples, such as surface snow, snow pit, and snowmelt water were collected from Mt. Yulong in the southeastern TP. The average concentration of Hg was found to be 37 ± 26 ng L−1 (mean ± SD), comparable to Hg concentration from other parts of TP in the same year, though it was comparatively higher than those from previous years, suggesting a possible increase of Hg concentration over the TP. The concentration of Hg was higher in the lower elevation of the glaciers possibly due to the surface melting concentration of particulates. Higher concentration of Hg was observed in the fresh snow, suggesting the possibility of long-range transportation. The average concentration of Hg from the snow pit was 1.49 ± 0.78 ng L−1, and the concentration of Hg in the vertical profile of the snow pit co-varied with calcium ion (Ca2+) supporting the fact that the portion of Hg is from the crustal origin. In addition, the principal component analysis (PCA) confirmed that the source of Hg is from the crustal origin; however, the presence of anthropogenic source in the Mt. Yulong was also observed. In surface water around Mt. Yulong, the concentration of HgT was found in the order of Lashihai Lake > Reservoirs > Rivers > Swamps > Luguhu Lake. In lake water, the concentration of HgT showed an increasing trend with depth. Overall, the increased concentration of Hg in recent years from the TP can be of concern and may have an adverse impact on the downstream ecosystem, wildlife, and human health.


Mercury Tibetan Plateau Glacier Snow Mt. Yulong Baishui Glacier No. 1 



The author would like to thank the field staff for their diligent and excellent collaborative work. The authors are also grateful to everyone who has been directly or indirectly involved in this study.

Funding information

This work was supported by Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of 522 Sciences, Pan-Third Pole Environment Study for a Green Silk Road (Pan-TPE) (XDA20040501), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41630754, 41671074), and the Foundation of State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences (SKLCS-ZZ-2018)

Supplementary material

11356_2019_5005_MOESM1_ESM.docx (314 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 313 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Science, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and ResourcesChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Himalayan Environment Research Institute (HERI)KathmanduNepal
  4. 4.CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  5. 5.Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  6. 6.Central Department of Environmental ScienceTribhuvan UniversityKathmanduNepal
  7. 7.Yulong Snow Mountain Glacier and Environmental Observation Research StationState Key Laboratory of Cryospheric ScienceLanzhouChina

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