Articles | Volume 21, issue 11
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 21, 5725–5746, 2017
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 21, 5725–5746, 2017

Research article 17 Nov 2017

Research article | 17 Nov 2017

Impact of snow deposition on major and trace element concentrations and elementary fluxes in surface waters of the Western Siberian Lowland across a 1700 km latitudinal gradient

Vladimir P. Shevchenko1, Oleg S. Pokrovsky2, Sergey N. Vorobyev3, Ivan V. Krickov3, Rinat M. Manasypov3,4, Nadezhda V. Politova1, Sergey G. Kopysov3, Olga M. Dara1, Yves Auda2, Liudmila S. Shirokova2,4, Larisa G. Kolesnichenko3, Valery A. Zemtsov3, and Sergey N. Kirpotin3 Vladimir P. Shevchenko et al.
  • 1Shirshov Institute of Oceanology RAS, 36 Nakhimovsky Pr., Moscow, Russia
  • 2Geosciences Environment Toulouse, UMR 5563 CNRS, University of Toulouse, 14 Avenue Edouard Belin 31400, Toulouse, France
  • 3BIO-GEO-CLIM Laboratory, Tomsk State University, 36 Lenina, Tomsk, Russia
  • 4N. Laverov Federal Center for Integrated Arctic Research, IEPS, Russian Academy of Science, Arkhangelsk, Russia

Abstract. In order to better understand the chemical composition of snow and its impact on surface water hydrochemistry in the poorly studied Western Siberia Lowland (WSL), the surface layer of snow was sampled in February 2014 across a 1700 km latitudinal gradient (ca. 56.5 to 68° N). We aimed at assessing the latitudinal effect on both dissolved and particulate forms of elements in snow and quantifying the impact of atmospheric input to element storage and export fluxes in inland waters of the WSL. The concentration of dissolved+colloidal (< 0.45 µm) Fe, Co, Cu, As and La increased by a factor of 2 to 5 north of 63° N compared to southern regions. The pH and dissolved Ca, Mg, Sr, Mo and U in snow water increased with the rise in concentrations of particulate fraction (PF). Principal component analyses of major and trace element concentrations in both dissolved and particulate fractions revealed two factors not linked to the latitude. A hierarchical cluster analysis yielded several groups of elements that originated from alumino-silicate mineral matrix, carbonate minerals and marine aerosols or belonging to volatile atmospheric heavy metals, labile elements from weatherable minerals and nutrients. The main sources of mineral components in PF are desert and semi-desert regions of central Asia.

The snow water concentrations of DIC, Cl, SO4, Mg, Ca, Cr, Co, Ni, Cu, Mo, Cd, Sb, Cs, W, Pb and U exceeded or were comparable with springtime concentrations in thermokarst lakes of the permafrost-affected WSL zone. The springtime river fluxes of DIC, Cl, SO4, Na, Mg, Ca, Rb, Cs, metals (Cr, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb), metalloids (As, Sb), Mo and U in the discontinuous to continuous permafrost zone (64–68° N) can be explained solely by melting of accumulated snow. The impact of snow deposition on riverine fluxes of elements strongly increased northward, in discontinuous and continuous permafrost zones of frozen peat bogs. This was consistent with the decrease in the impact of rock lithology on river chemical composition in the permafrost zone of the WSL, relative to the permafrost-free regions. Therefore, the present study demonstrates significant and previously underestimated atmospheric input of many major and trace elements to their riverine fluxes during spring floods. A broader impact of this result is that current estimations of river water fluxes response to climate warming in high latitudes may be unwarranted without detailed analysis of winter precipitation.

Short summary
We used a coupled hydrological–hydrochemical approach to assess the impact of snow on river and lake water chemistry across a permafrost gradient in very poorly studied Western Siberia Lowland (WSL), encompassing > 1.5 million km2. The riverine springtime fluxes of major and trace element in WSL rivers might be strongly overestimated due to previously unknown input from the snow deposition.