Environmental Earth Sciences

, 78:683 | Cite as

Hydro-geochemical characteristics of glacial meltwater from Naradu Glacier catchment, Western Himalaya

  • Rajesh Kumar
  • Ramesh KumarEmail author
  • Shaktiman Singh
  • Atar Singh
  • Anshuman Bhardwaj
  • Himanshu Chaudhary
Original Article


The pattern of changing hydro-geochemical characteristics of water in Himalayan rivers is primarily controlled by sediment load from natural sources in higher altitudes and anthropogenic sources such as the burning of fossil fuels for domestic use, vehicular emissions, and wind transported industrial pollutants in the downstream region. The assessment of water quality is critical for the comparison of natural and anthropogenic sources in the downstream areas due to the dependence of the population on the glacial meltwater for freshwater supply. In the present study, we investigate the physical and ionic characteristics of glacial meltwater from Naradu Glacier catchment concerning the dominant weathering process. The freshwater samples were collected during the ablation period of 2016 and 2017 from specified locations. The physical parameters (pH, electrical conductivity, and temperature) were measured in the field while the analyses for concentrations of major cations (Ca2+, Mg2+, K+, Na+) and major anions (Cl, SO42−, HCO3, NO3) were done in the laboratory. The anions (HCO3 > SO42− > Cl > NO3) and cations (Ca2+ > Mg2+ > Na+ > K+) concentrations were observed to have similar trends for both of the ablation period. The statistical analysis shows the predominance of geological weathering processes in the catchment as the controlling factor for the variation in concentration of different ionic species. The catchment was found to be rich in rocks with carbonate mineral making the Ca2+ and HCO3 the most dominant ions in the glacial meltwater.


Hydro-geochemistry Cations Anions Carbonate weathering Naradu Glacier 



The research is a part of the research project funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India on Naradu Glacier. The support of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES/PAMC/H&C/61/2015-PCII, dated March 03, 2016) and Department of Science and Technology SB/DGH-92/2014 dated 19/12/2014 and DST/CCP/NHC/159/2018(G), dated March 28, 2019 through the research project on glacier sanctioned to Dr. Rajesh Kumar (the PI of the project) is thankfully acknowledged. Authors would also like to acknowledge the permission and support by Prof. Ravindra Kumar Sinha, Vice Chancellor, Nalanda Open University and Dr. Anupma Kumari, Environmental Biology Laboratory, Dept. of Zoology, Patna University for using their laboratory and their keen guidance during the chemical analysis of water samples.


  1. Ahmad S, Hasnain SI (2000) Meltwater characteristics of Garhwal Himalayan glaciers. J Geol Soc India 56:431–439Google Scholar
  2. Ahmad S, Hasnain SI (2001) Chemical characteristics of stream draining from Dudu glacier: an Alpine meltwater stream in Ganga Headwater Garhwal Himalaya. J China Univ Geosci 12(1):75–83Google Scholar
  3. Ahmad T, Khanna PP, Chakrapani GJ, Balakrishnan S (1998) Geochemical characteristics of water and sediment of the Indus river, Trans-Himalaya, India: constraints on weathering and erosion. J Asian Earth Sci 16:333–346. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. APHA (2005) WEF, 2005. Stand. Methods Exam Water Wastewater 21:258–259Google Scholar
  5. Barry RG (2006) The status of research on glaciers and global glacier recession: a review. Prog Phys Geogr 30(3):285–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bartarya SK (1988) Geohydrological and geomorphological studies of the Gaula River basin, District Nainital, with special reference to the problem of erosion. Ph.D Thesis, Kumaun University, Nainital, pp 266Google Scholar
  7. Bengraïne K, Marhaba TF (2003) Using principal component analysis to monitor spatial and temporal changes in water quality. J Hazard Mater 100:179–195. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bhardwaj A, Joshi PK, Snehmani Singh MK, Sam L, Gupta RD (2014) Mapping debris-covered glaciers and identifying factors affecting the accuracy. Cold Reg Sci Technol 106–107:161–174. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bhardwaj A, Joshi PK, Snehmani Sam L, Singh MK, Singh S, Kumar R (2015a) Applicability of Landsat 8 data for characterizing glacier facies and supraglacial debris. Int J Appl Earth Obs Geoinf 38:51–64. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bhardwaj A, Singh MK, Joshi PK (2015b) A lake detection algorithm (LDA) using Landsat 8 data: a comparative approach in glacial environment. Int J Appl Earth Obs Geoinf 38:150–163. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bhardwaj A, Joshi PK, Sam L, Snehmani (2016a) Remote sensing of alpine glaciers in visible and infrared wavelengths: a survey of advances and prospects. Geocarto Int 31(5):557–574. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bhardwaj A, Sam L, Akanksha Martin-Torres FJ (2016b) LiDAR remote sensing of the cryosphere: present applications and future prospects. Remote Sens Environ 177:125–143. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bhardwaj A, Sam L, Akanksha Martin-Torres FJ, Kumar R (2016c) UAVs as remote sensing platform in glaciology: present applications and future prospects. Remote Sens Environ 175:196–204. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bhardwaj A, Sam L, Singh S, Kumar R (2016d) Automated detection and temporal monitoring of crevasses using remote sensing and their implications for glacier dynamics. Ann Glaciol. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bolch T, Kulkarni AV, Kääb A, Huggel C, Paul F, Cogley JG, Frey H, Kargel JS, Fujita K, Scheel M (2012) The state and fate of Himalayan glaciers. Science 336:310–314. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bradley RS, Keimig FT, Diaz HF (2009) Recent changes in freezing level heights in the tropics with implications for the deglacierization of high mountain regions. Geophys Res Lett 36(17):367–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Brown GH (2002) Glacier meltwater hydrochemistry. Appl Geochem 17(7):855–883CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Burger LC, Qureshi A, Vadenbo C, Hellweg S (2013) Anthropogenic mercury flows in India and impacts of emission controls. Environ Sci Technol 47:8105–8113Google Scholar
  19. Bury JT, Mark BG, Mckenzie JM (2011) Glacier recession and human vulnerability in the Yanamarey watershed of the Cordillera Blanca. Peru Clim Chang 105(1):179–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chauhan DS, Hasnain SI (1993) Chemical characteristics, solute and suspended sediments load in meltwater draining Satopanth and Bhagirathi Kharak glaciers, Ganga basin, India. In: Young GJ (ed) Snow and glacier hydrology, vol 218. IAHS Press, IAHS Publ, Wallingford, pp 2–10Google Scholar
  21. Dutta S, Mujtaba SAI, Saini HS, Chunchekar R, Kumar P (2017) Geomorphic evolution of glacier-fed Baspa Valley, NW Himalaya: record of Late Quaternary climate change, monsoon dynamics and glacial fluctuations. In: Pant NC, Ravindra R, Srivastava D, Thompson LG (eds) The Himalayan cryosphere: past and present, vol 462. Geological Society, Special Publications, London. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Galy A, France-Lanord C (1999) Weathering processes in the Ganges-Brahmaputra basin and the riverine alkalinity budget. Chem Geol 159:31–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Immerzeel WW, Verbeek LPH, Bierkens MFP (2010) Climate change will affect the Asian water towers. Science 328:1382–1385. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jiang L, Yao Z, Liu Z, Wang R, Wu S (2015) Hydrochemistry and its controlling factors of rivers in the source region of the Yangtze River on the Tibetan Plateau. J Geochem Explor 155:76–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Karim A, Veizer J (2000) Weathering processes in the Indus River Basin: implications from riverine carbon, sulfur, oxygen, and strontium isotopes. Chem Geol 170:153–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Khadka UR, Ramanathan AL (2012) Major ion composition and seasonal variation in the Lesser Himalayan lake: case of Begnas Lake of the Pokhara Valley, Nepal. Arab J Geosci 6:4191–4206. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Koul MN, Ganjoo RK (2009) Impact of inter- and intra-annual variation in weather parameters on mass balance and equilibrium line altitude of Naradu Glacier (Himachal Pradesh), NW Himalaya, India. Clim Chang 99:119–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kumar R, Singh S, Randhawa SS, Singh KK, Rana JC (2014) Temperature trend analysis in the glacier region of Naradu Valley, Himachal Himalaya, India. Comptes Rendus Geosci 346(9–10):213–222. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kumar R, Singh S, Kumar R, Singh A, Bhardwaj A, Sam L, Randhawa SS, Gupta A (2016) Development of a Glaciohydrological model for discharge and mass balance reconstruction. J Water Resour Manag. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kumar R, Kumar R, Singh A, Sinha RK, Kumari A (2018a) Nanoparticles in glacial meltwater. Mater Today Proc 5(3P1):9161–9166. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kumar R, Kumar R, Singh S, Singh A, Bhardwaj A, Kumari A, Randhawa SS, Saha A (2018b) Dynamics of suspended sediment load with respect to summer discharge and temperatures in Shaune Garang glacierized catchment, Western Himalaya. Acta Geophysica. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kumar R, Kumar R, Singh A, Singh S, Bhardwaj A, Kumari A, Sinha RK, Gupta A (2019a) Hydro-geochemical analysis of meltwater draining from Bilare Banga glacier, Western Himalaya. Acta Geophysica 67:651. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kumar R, Kumar R, Singh A, Sinha RK, Kumari A, Gupta A, Singh J (2019b) Distribution of trace metal in Shaune Garang catchment: evidence from particles and nanoparticles. Mater Today Proc 15(3):586–594. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lau KM, Kim MK, Kim KM (2006) Asian monsoon anomalies induced by aerosol direct effects. Clim Dyn 26:855–864. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lioubimtseva E, Henebry GM (2009) Climate and environmental change in arid Central Asia: impacts, vulnerability, and adaptations. J Arid Environ. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Meybeck M (1987) Global chemical weathering of surfcial rocks estimated from river dissolved loads. Am J Sci 287:401–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mortatti J, Probst JL (2003) Silicate rock weathering and atmospheric/soil CO2 uptake in the Amazon basin estimated from river water geochemistry: seasonal and spatial variations. Chem Geol 197:177–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Naithani AK, Nainwal HC, Sati KK, Prasad C (2001) Geomorphological evidences of retreating of Gangotri glacier and its characteristics. Curr Sci 80(1):87–94Google Scholar
  39. Pant RR, Zhang F, Rehman FU, Wang G, Ming Y, Zeng C, Tang H (2018) Spatiotemporal variations of hydro-geochemistry and its controlling factors in the Gandaki River Basin, Central Himalaya Nepal. Sci Total Environ 622–623(2018):770–782CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Piper AM (1944) A graphic procedure in the geochemical interpretation of water analyses. EOS Trans Am Geophys Union 25(6):914–928CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ravikumar P (2017) Somashekar RK (2017) Principal component analysis and hydrochemical facies characterization to evaluate groundwater quality in Varahi river basin, Karnataka state, India. Appl Water Sci 7:745–755. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Reghunath R, Murthy TRS, Raghavan BR (2002) The utility of multivariate statistical techniques in hydro-geochemical studies: an example from Karnataka, India. Water Res 36(2002):2437–2442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sadashivaiah C, Ramakrishnaiah CR (2008) Ranganna G (2008) Hydrochemical Analysis and Evaluation of Groundwater Quality in Tumkur Taluk, Karnataka State, India. Int J Environ Res Public Health 5(3):158–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sam L, Bhardwaj A, Singh S, Kumar R (2015) Remote sensing in glacier velocity estimation and a novel approach for debris covered glaciers. Prog Phys Geogr 40(2):305–321. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sam L, Bhardwaj A, Sinha VSP, Joshi PK, Kumar R (2016) Use of geospatial tools to prioritize zones of hydro-energy potential in Glaciated Himalayan Terrain. J Indian Soc Remote Sens 44(3):409–420. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sam L, Bhardwaj A, Kumar R, Buchroithner MF, Martín-Torres FJ (2018) Heterogeneity in topographic control on velocities of Western Himalayan glaciers. Sci Rep. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sharma A, Singh AK, Kumar K (2012) Environmental geochemistry and quality assessment of surface and subsurface water of Mahi River basin, western India. Environ Earth Sci 65:1231–1250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sharma P, Ramanathan AL, Pottakkal J (2013) Study of solute sources and evolution of hydrogeochemical processes of the Chhota Shigri Glacier meltwaters, Himachal Himalaya, India. Hydrol Sci J 58(5):1128–1143. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Shekhar M, Bhardwaj A, Singh S, Ranhotra PS, Bhattacharyya A, Pall AK, Roy I, Martín-Torres FJ, Zorzano MP (2017) Himalayan glaciers experienced significant mass loss during later phases of little ice age. Sci Rep 7:10305. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Singh AK, Hasnain SI (1998) Major ion chemistry and weathering control in a high altitude basin: Alaknanda River, Garhwal Himalaya, India. Hydrol Sci J 43(6):825–843. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Singh P, Haritashya UK, Kumar N (2004) Seasonal change in meltwater storage and drainage characteristics of the Dokriani Glacier, Garhwal Himalayas (India). Nor Hydrol 34:15–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Singh VB, Ramanathan A, Pottakkal JG, Sharma P, Linda A, Azam F, Chatterjee C (2012) Chemical characterisation of meltwater draining from Gangotri Glacier, Garhwal Himalaya, India. J Earth Syst Sci 121:625. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Singh VB, Ramanathan A, Pottakkal JG, Linda A, Sharma P (2013) Temporal variation in the major ion chemistry of Chhota Shigri Glacier Meltwater, Lahaul-Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India. Natl Acad Sci Lett 36:335. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Singh VB, Ramanathan AL, Pottakkal JG, Kumar M (2014) Seasonal variation of the solute and suspended sediment load in Gangotri glacier meltwater, central Himalaya, India. J Asian Earth Sci 79:224–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Singh MK, Snehmani Gupta RD, Bhardwaj A, Joshi PK, Ganju A (2015a) High resolution DEM generation for complex and snow covered Indian Himalayan region using ADS80 Aerial Push-broom camera: a first time attempt. Arab J Geosci 8(3):1403–1414. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Singh VB, Ramanathan AL, Sharma P (2015b) Major ion chemistry and assessment of weathering processes of the Patsio glacier meltwater, Western Himalaya, India. Environ Earth Sci 73:387–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Singh VB, Ramanathan AL, Sharma P, Pottakkal JG (2015c) Dissolved ion chemistry and suspended sediment characteristics of meltwater draining from Chhota Shigri Glacier, western Himalaya, India. Arab J Geosci 8:281–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Singh MK, Gupta RD, Snehmani Bhardwaj A, Ganju A (2016a) Scenario-based validation of moderate resolution DEMs freely available for complex Himalayan terrain. Pure Appl Geophys 173(2):463–485. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Singh MK, Gupta RD, Snehmani Bhardwaj A, Ganju A (2016b) Effect of sensor modelling methods on computation of 3D coordinates from Cartosat-1 stereo data. Geocarto Int 31(5):506–526. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Singh S, Kumar R, Bhardwaj A, Sam L, Shekhar M, Singh A, Kumar R, Gupta A (2016c) Changing climate and glacio-hydrology in Indian Himalayan Region: a review. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Clim Chang 7(3):393–410. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Singh VB, Ramanathan AL, Pottakkal JG, Mandal A (2016d) Hydrogeochemistry of high-altitude lake: a case study of the Chandra Tal, Western Himalaya, India. Arab J Geosci 9:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Singh S, Kumar R, Bhardwaj A, Kumar R, Singh A (2018) Changing climate and glacio-hydrology: a case study of Shaune Garang basin, Himachal Pradesh. Int J Hydrol Sci Technol. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Snehmani, Bhardwaj A, Joshi PK, Pandit A, Ganju A (2013) Study of temporal changes in snout position and wet snow line for Gangotri Glacier using remote sensing, ground observations and meteorological data. Int J Geoinf 9(1):49–60Google Scholar
  64. Snehmani, Bhardwaj A, Pandit A, Ganju A (2014) Demarcation of potential avalanche sites using remote sensing and ground observations: a case study of Gangotri glacier. Geocarto Int 29(5):520–535. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Snehmani, Bhardwaj A, Singh MK, Gupta RD, Joshi PK, Ganju A (2015a) Modelling the hypsometric seasonal snow cover using meteorological parameters. J Spat Sci 60(1):51–64. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Snehmani, Singh MK, Gupta RD, Bhardwaj A, Joshi PK (2015b) Remote sensing of mountain snow using active microwave sensors: a review. Geocarto Int 30(1):1–27. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Srivastava D, Absar A, Sangewar CV, Pandey SN, Oberoi LK, Siddiqui MA (2004) Chemical signatures of lithology on Gangotri glacier meltwater and Gaumukh– Tehri dam section of Bhagirathi River, Proc. Workshop on Gangotri Glacier; Geol. Surv India Spec Publ 80:223–226Google Scholar
  68. Thomas J, Joseph S, Thrivikramji KP (2015) Hydrochemical variations of a tropical mountain river system in a rain shadow region of the southern Western Ghats, Kerala, India. Appl Geochem 63:456–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Todd DK, Mays LW (2005) Groundwater hydrology. Wiley, New York, p 636Google Scholar
  70. Tyagi SK, Datta PS, Pruthi NK (2009) Hydrochemical appraisal of groundwater and its suitability in the intensive agricultural area of Muzaffarnagar district, Uttar Pradesh, India. Environ Geol 56:901–912. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Valdiya KS (1980) Geology of Kumaun Lesser Himalaya. Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehra Dun, p 291Google Scholar
  72. Vuille M, Francou B, Wagnon P (2008) Climate change and tropical Andean glaciers: past, present and future. Earth Sci Rev 89(3):79–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Xiao J, Jin ZD, Ding H, Wang J, Zhang F (2012) Geochemistry and solute sources of surface waters of the Tarim River Basin in the extreme arid region, NW Tibetan Plateau. J Asian Earth Sci 54:162–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental ScienceSharda UniversityGreater NoidaIndia
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Science, School of Earth ScienceCentral University of RajsthanAjmerIndia
  3. 3.Division of Space Technology, Department of Computer ScienceElectrical and Space Engineering, Lulea University of TechnologyLuleaSweden

Personalised recommendations