Physico-chemical characteristics and environmental significance of snow deposition on Haxilegen glacier No.51 in Tian Shan, China

  • Zhiwen DongEmail author
  • Zhongqin Li
  • Mingjun Zhang
  • Feiteng Wang
  • Lihua Wu


Snow chemistry on the glaciers of alpine regions is a good indicator of atmospheric environmental change. We examine snow chemistry in three snowpits at different altitudes on the Haxilegen Glacier No. 51, in the Kuitun River source, Tian Shan, China, during July-September 2004 to 2007. We use correlation analysis, factor analysis and sea-salt tracing methods to examine the characteristics and sources of major ions and mineral dust particles in the snow. Results show that mineral dust particles and major ions in the snow pits vary seasonally. During the Asian dust period in springtime, the concentration of mineral dust particles and major ions deposited in snow is high, while the concentration is relatively low during the non-dust period of summer and autumn. This may be caused by dust storm activity in central Asia. The order of major ionic concentrations in the snow packs was determined to be Ca2+ > SO4 2− > NH4 + > NO3 > Cl> Na+ > Mg2+ > K+. Ca2+ was the dominant cation; SO4 2− was the dominant anion. We find, with the exception of NO3 , that the variabilities of ionic concentrations are highly correlated. Results show that the glacier region was significantly affected by dust activity and anthropogenic source. The major ions, especially Na+, originate from dust sources of central Asia and from the Ocean, transported by the westerly winds.


Snow chemistry Mineral dust Environmental significance Haxilegen glacier No. 51 Tian Shan 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhiwen Dong
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Zhongqin Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mingjun Zhang
    • 2
  • Feiteng Wang
    • 1
  • Lihua Wu
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute /Tianshan Glaciological StationCASLanzhouChina
  2. 2.College of Geography and Environment ScienceNorthwest Normal UniversityLanzhouChina
  3. 3.Graduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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