Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 472–482 | Cite as

Hydrochemical characteristics and solute dynamics of meltwater runoff of Urumqi Glacier No.1, eastern Tianshan, northwest China

  • Fang FengEmail author
  • Zhongqin Li
  • Shuang Jin
  • Zhiwen Dong
  • Feiteng Wang


Hydrochemical characteristics and solute dynamics of bulk meltwater draining from Urumqi Glacier No.1 were investigated in years 2006 and 2007. The glacial meltwater was slightly alkaline with the mean pH of 7.64 and 7.61 in 2006 and 2007, respectively. In the meltwater, the dominant anions were the bicarbonate and sulphate, and the dominant cation was calcium. The concentration of major cations were varied as c(Ca2+) > c(Mg2+) > c(K+) > c(Na+), while the order for the cations was c(HCO3 ) > c(SO4 2−) > c(NO3 ) > c(Cl). The total dissolved solids (TDS) in meltwater had inverse relationships with the diurnal discharge. The major ion composition of meltwater was mainly controlled by rock weathering as inferred from the Gibbs model. Furthermore, the ion ratios and Piper diagram indicated that the main processes controlling the meltwater chemistry were carbonate weathering, pyrite weathering and feldspar weathering in rocks, and Ca2+ and HCO3 were the dominant ions during the carbonate weathering process. Solute flux calculation at Glacier No.1 station suggested that chemical denudation rates were 11.46 and 13.90 ton·km−2·yr−1 in 2006 and 2007, respectively.


Ionic concentration EC and TDS Rock weathering Solute fluxes Urumqi Glacier No.1 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson SP, Drever JI, Humphrey NF (1997) Chemical weathering in glacial environments. Geology 25: 399–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson SP, Drever JI, Frost CD, et al. (2000) Chemical weathering in the foreland of a retreating glacier. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 64(7): 1173–1189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown GH (2002) Glacier meltwater hydrochemistry. Applied Geochemistry 17(7): 855–883.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chen JS, Wang FY, Xia XH, et al. (2002) Major element chemistry of the Changjiang (Yangtze River). Chemical Geology 187: 231–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Collins DN (1979) Hydrochemistry of meltwaters draining from an alpine glacier. Arctic and Alpine Research 11(3): 307–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dyurgerov MB, Meier MF (2000) Twentieth century climate change: evidence from small glaciers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 97(4): 1406–1411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gibbs M, Kump L (1996) Global chemical weathering during deglaciation. In: Bottrell S H (Ed.), Proc. 4th Internat. Symp. Geochemistry of the Earth’s Surface, Ilkley, 733–737.Google Scholar
  8. Gibbs RJ (1970) Mechanisms controlling world water chemistry. Science 170: 1088–1090.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gislason SR, Oelkers EH, Eiriksdottir ES, et al. (2009) Direct evidence of the feedback between climate and weathering. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 277: 213–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hasnain SI, Subramanian V, Dhanpal K (1989) Chemical characteristics and suspended sediment load of meltwaters from a Himalayan glacier in India. Journal of Hydrology 106: 99–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hasnain SI, Thayyen RJ (1996) Sediment transport and solute variation in meltwaters of Dokriani Glacier (Bamak), Garhwal Himalaya: Journal of the Geological Society of India 47: 731–739.Google Scholar
  12. Hasnain SI, Thayyen RJ (1999) Controls on the major-ion chemistry of the Dokriani glacier meltwaters, Ganga basin, Garhwal Himalaya, India. Journal of Glaciology 45: 87–92.Google Scholar
  13. Hodson A, Tranter M, Vaten G (2000) Contemporary rates of chemical denudation and atmospheric CO2 sequestration in glacier basin: an Arctic perspective. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 25: 1447–1471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hodson A, Heaton T, Langford H, et al. (2010) Chemical weathering and solute export by meltwater in a maritime Antarctic glacier basin. Biogeochemistry 98: 9–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hodgkins R (1997) Glacier hydrology in Svalbard, Norwegian High Arctic. Quaternary Science Reviews 16: 957–973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kumar K, Miral MS, Joshi S, et al. (2009) Solute dynamics of meltwater of Gangotri Glacier, Garhwal Himalaya, India. Environmental Geology 58: 1151–1159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Li BL, Zhu AX, Zhang YC, et al. (2006) Glacier change over the past four decades in the middle Chinese Tien Shan. Journal of Glaciology 52(178): 425–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Li ZX, He YQ, Pu T, et al. (2010) Changes of climate, glaciers and runoff in China’s monsoonal temperate glacier region during the last several decades. Quaternary International 218: 13–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Li, ZQ, Han TD, Jing ZF, et al. (2003) A summary of 40-year observed variation facts of climate and Glacier No.1 at headwater of Urumqi River, Tianshan, China. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology 25(2): 117–121. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  20. Li ZQ, Wang WB, Zhang MJ, et al. (2009) Observed changes in streamflow at the headwaters of the Urumqi River, eastern Tianshan, central Asia. Hydrological Processes 24: 217–224.Google Scholar
  21. Li ZQ, Li KM, Gao WY, et al. (2011) Recent glacial retreat and its effect on water resources in eastern Xinjiang. Chinese Science Bulletin 56(33): 3596–3604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Liu FJ, Williams M, Sun JY, et al. (1999) Hydrochemical processes and hydrological separation at the headwaters of the Urumqi River, Tianshan Mountains, China. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology 21(4): 362–370.Google Scholar
  23. Meybeck M (1979) Concentrations des eaux fluviales en éléments majeurs et apports en solution aux océans: Revue Géologie Dynamique et Géographie Physique, 21: 215–246. (In French)Google Scholar
  24. Meybeck M (2003) Global occurrence of major elements in rivers. In: Drever JI (ed.), Treatise on Geochemistry, Surface and Ground Water, Weathering, and Soils. Elsevier, 207–223.Google Scholar
  25. Pu T, He YQ, Zhu GF, et al. (2011) Hydrochemical characteristics of three rivers around Yulong Mountain in rainy season. Scientia Geographica Sinica 31(6): 734–740. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  26. Qin JH, Huh Y, Edmond JM, et al. (2006) Chemical and physical weathering in the Min Jiang, a headwater tributary of the Yangtze River. Chemical Geology 187: 53–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sharp M, Tranter M, Brown GH, et al. (1995) Rates of chemical denudation and CO2 drawdown in a glacier-covered alpine catchment. Geology 23(1): 61–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Shi YF, Huang MH, Yao TD, et al. (2000) Glaciers and their environments in China—the present, past and future. Beijing, Science Press. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  29. Singh AK, Hasnain SI (2002) Aspects of weathering and solute acquisition processes controlling chemistry of sub-alpine proglacial streams of Garhwal Himalaya, India. Hydrological Processes 16: 835–849.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sun JY, Qin DH, Ren JW, et al. (2002) A study of water chemistry and aerosol at the headwaters of the Urumqi River in the Tianshan Mountains. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 2002, 24(2): 186–191. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  31. Wang J, Ding YJ, Xu JL, et al. (2006) Hydrochemical characteristic analysis of melting water flow in Keqikaer Glacier, Tianshan (West) Mountains. Environmental Science, 27(7): 1305–1311. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  32. Wang JT, Zhang ZS (1981) Glacial sediments at headwater basins of Urumqi River, Tian Shan. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology 3(Suppl.): 49–56. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  33. Wang SJ, Zhang MJ, Li ZQ, et al. (2011) Glacier area variation and climate change in the Chinese Tianshan Mountains since 1960. Journal of Geographical Science 21(2): 263–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Walling DE, Webb BW (1986) Solutes in river systems. In: Trudgill S T (Ed.), Solute Processes. Wiley, Chichester, 251–327.Google Scholar
  35. Williams MW, Yang DQ, Liu FJ, et al. (1995) Controls on the major ion chemistry of the Urumqi River, Tianshan, People’s Republic of China. Journal of Hydrology 172: 209–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ye BS, Yang DQ, Jiao KQ, et al. (2005) The Urumqi River source Urumqi glacier No. 1, Tianshan, China: changes over the past 45 years. Geophysical Research Letters, 32: L21504. doi: 10.1029/2005GL024178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Yde JC, Knudsen NT, Ole BN (2005) Glacier hydrochemistry, solute provenance, and chemical denudation at a surge-type glacier in Kuannersuit Kuussuat, Disko Island, West Greenland. Journal of Hydrology 300: 172–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Yde JC, Riger-kusk M, Christiansen HH, et al. (2008) Hydrochemical characteristics of bulk meltwater from an entire ablation season, Longyearbreen, Svalbard. Journal of Glaciology 54(185): 259–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Zhang WC, Zhang YS, Ogawa K, et al. (1999) Observation and estimation of daily actual evapotranspiration and evaporation on a glacierized watershed at the headwater of the Urumqi River, Tianshan, China. Hydrological Processes 13: 1589–1601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Zhao HB, Yao TD, Xu BQ (2007) Preliminary results on hydrological and hydrochemical features of Kartamak Glacier area in Mt. Muztag Ata. Journal of Mountain Sciense 4(1): 77–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Zhao ZP, Tian LD, Fischer E, et al. (2008) Study of chemical composition of precipitation at an alpine site and a rural site in the Urumqi River Valley, Eastern Tien Shan, China. Atmospheric Environment 42: 8934–8942.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zhu YM, Li ZQ, You XN (2006) Application and technique in glacier by AccuSizer 780A Optical Particle Sizer. Modern Scientific Instruments 3: 81–84. (In Chinese)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fang Feng
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Zhongqin Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shuang Jin
    • 1
  • Zhiwen Dong
    • 1
  • Feiteng Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Cryosphere Sciences/Tianshan Glaciological Station, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research InstituteChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouGansu, China
  2. 2.College of Geography and Environmental ScienceNorthwest Normal UniversityLanzhouGansu, China

Personalised recommendations