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Climatic variations and solute concentration and flux in meltwaters draining from an alpine glacier.

By DN Collins, J Harrison and JMS Kitcher


Measurements of electrical conductivity and discharge of meltwaters in the Gornera, which drains from the 83%glacierised basin containing Gornergletscher, Pennine Alps, Switzerland, were undertaken between May and September in both 1979 and 1998. Discharge in the Gornera was 43% higher in 1998, average air temperature during the ablation season being 2.1 °C warmer and preceding winter precipitation 28% lower than in 1979. Mean electrical conductivity of meltwater in 1998 was reduced by 40%. In the same 60 day period in 1998, however, solute flux was augmented by only 2% by comparison with 1979. Year-to-year climatic variations, reflected in discharge variability, strongly affect solute concentration in glacial meltwaters, but have limited impact on solute flux. Climatic conditions translate into meltwater quality through inter-relationships between mineral reaction rates, subglacial residence time in contact with sediment, and discharge. Annual variability in solute flux depends on the extent to which volume of flow can offset decline in solute concentration brought about by reducing residence time

Topics: GB0980, GE, GB2401, other
Publisher: Springer
Year: 2004
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