Environmental Earth Sciences

, 59:297 | Cite as

Seasonally chemical weathering and CO2 consumption flux of Lake Qinghai river system in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau

  • Fei Zhang
  • Zhangdong JinEmail author
  • Guang Hu
  • Fuchun Li
  • Yuewei Shi
Original Article


The major cation and anion compositions of waters from the Lake Qinghai river system (LQRS) in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau were measured. The waters were collected seasonally from five main rivers during pre-monsoon (late May), monsoon (late July), and post-monsoon (middle October). The LQRS waters are all very alkaline and have high concentrations of TDS (total dissolved solids) compared to rivers draining the Himalayas and the southeastern Tibetan Plateau. Seasonal variations in the water chemistry show that, except the Daotang River, the TDS concentration is high in October and low in July in the LQRS waters. The forward models were used to quantify the input of three main rivers (Buha River, Shaliu River, and Hargai River) from rain, halite, carbonates, and silicates. The results suggest that (1) atmospheric input is the first important source for the waters of the Buha River and the Shaliu River, contributing 36–57% of the total dissolved cations, (2) carbonate weathering input and atmospheric input have equal contribution to the Hargai River water, (3) carbonate weathering has higher contribution to these rivers than silicate weathering, and (4) halite is also important source for the Buha River. The Daotang River water is dominated by halite input owing to its underlying old lacustrine sediments. The water compositions of the Heima River are controlled by carbonate weathering and rainfall input in monsoon season, and groundwater input may be important in pre-monsoon and post-monsoon seasons. After being corrected the atmospheric input, average CO2 drawdown via silicate weathering in the LQRS is 35 × 103 mol/km2 per year, with highest in monsoon season, lower than Himalayas and periphery of Tibetan Plateau rivers but higher than some rivers draining shields.


Seasonal variation Chemical weathering Lake Qinghai river system 



This work has been financially supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China through grants 40599423 and 40873082, and by National Basic Research Program of China (2004CB720200). We especially thank Associate Professor Zhu Yuxin in Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Miss Sun Yufang in Nanjing Institute of Soil Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Miss Zhang Ting in Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, for their kind help and suggestions to sample analyses and laboratory work. Thanks are extended to Professor Yang Bo in Qinghai Institute of Salt Lake, Chinese Academy of Sciences for his assistance with sample collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fei Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhangdong Jin
    • 2
    Email author
  • Guang Hu
    • 2
  • Fuchun Li
    • 1
  • Yuewei Shi
    • 3
  1. 1.College of Resources and Environmental ScienceNanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina
  3. 3.The Bureau of Hydrology and Water Resources of Qinghai ProvinceXiningChina

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