Articles | Volume 1, issue 3
30 Sep 1997
30 Sep 1997

Major, minor and trace element composition of cloudwater and rainwater at Plynlimon

J. Wilkinson, B. Reynolds, C. Neal, S. Hill, M. Neal, and M. Harrow

Abstract. The composition of cloudwater samples collected at Plynlimon, Mid Wales by the Institute of Hydrology is described based on one of the most comprehensive chemical records for deposition in the UK. Comparison with bulk rainwater samples for the same area demonstrates a tenfold enrichment of most elements in cloudwater. Large variations in cloudwater composition occur due to variations in marine and terrestrial/anthropogenic sources, general weather patterns, atmospheric circulation and seasonal effects. All trace metal concentrations are associated with anthropogenic contamination. The lanthanides La, Cc and Pr, and Y are highly correlated in ratios associated with lithogenic sources and fossil fuel combustion. Outliers suggest the influence of catalysts used in the petrochemical cracking process. Plantation forestry significantly enhances the annual deposition of solutes from cloudwater; between 15 and 40% of most constituents to upland forested catchments and around 50% for NO3, B and Cd come from cloud deposition. In upland moorland areas, only 10% of the annual deposited load of inorganic constituents comes from cloudwater.