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Anthropogenic sulfate and Asian dust signals in snow from Tien Shan, northwest China

  • Cameron P. Wake (a1), Paul A. Mayewski (a1), Wang Ping (a1), Yang Qinzhao (a1), Han Jiankang (a1) and Xie Zichu (a2)...

Abstract

Snow samples were collected from a 0.5 m snowpack at Glacier No. 1 and near Bogda Feng, eastern Tien Shan, northwest China. Samples that were melted in the field were analyzed for chloride, nitrate, sulfate, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and microparticles. Eight samples were returned frozen and were analyzed for the above ions plus ammonium, acetate, formate, methylsulfonate, and hydrogen peroxide. There was no significant difference in measured major ion concentrations between the melted and frozen samples. Measured cations in both sets of samples were two to three times greater than measured anions. Calcium and sodium are the dominant cations while sulfate is the dominant measured anion. High ion burdens are associated with dusty layers in the snowpack, indicating that dust from the vast arid regions of central Asia is the dominant source for major ions in Tien Shan snow. The significant increase in sulfate and decrease in the cation : anion ratio in Bogda Feng snow relative to Glacier No. 1 snow suggest that anthropogenic emissions from Ürümqi are an important source of sulfate to precipitation downwind from the city.

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