Roundup: Himalaya Pollutants, Patagonia Food Web Study, and Snowfall Variability Dictates Glacier Mass Balance

Glacier Study Shows Toxic Metals Concentrating in High Central Himalaya

How and how much atmospheric pollutants settle in the high Himalaya is an understudied question. New research sited at Dokriani Glacier found toxic heavy metal contaminants from human activities are concentrating in the high central Himalaya. From the abstract:

“A total of 39 samples were collected from two snowpit stratigraphies, deposited during non-monsoon period and monsoonal precipitation between 4530 to 4630 m a.s.l. altitude in the year 2017. The results of analyzed trace metals (Al, Cr, Mn, Fe, Sr, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, As, and Pb) showed high enrichment values for Zn, Cr, Co, Ni and Mn compared to other parts of the Himalayan region, suggesting the influence of anthropogenic emissions (e.g., fossil fuel, metal production, and industrial processes) from urbanized areas of South Asia. Our results also revealed the possible health effects related to the enrichment of Zn and Cd, which may be responsible for skin-related diseases in Uttarakhand region.”

Read the full study here.

Patagonia Food Web Study Compares Glacier, non-Glacier Basins

An intriguing and paradoxical result was recently drawn from comparing glacial and non-glacial basins in Patagonia. Glacier basins were found to have a lower diversity of marine organisms than non-glacier fjords, however, inhabitants of these glacial systems have higher species overlap in their diet. From the abstract:

“Food web studies have provided insight into the dynamics of benthic ecosystems and their stability, stimulating research into the importance of different organic matters inputs in the ecological and metabolic processes that affect community structure. Using stable isotope analysis and Bayesian ellipses, this study examines the influence of terrestrial organic matter and hydrographic conditions on food web structure and niche width in a glacial system (Baker/Martínez fjord complex).”

Read the full study here.

Fig. 1. Location of sampling stations in the Baker-Martínez fjord complex system in Chilean Patagonia. White dots by sampling stations for March 2014 and December 2015; black dots by sampling stations for October 2014 (Source: Cari et al).

Glacier Mass Balance in Himalaya-Karakoram Dictated by Snowfall Variability

The Himalaya-Karakoram (HK), part of the complex of ranges that includes the Pamir Mountains, the Hindu Kush and the Himalayan Mountains, is the most heavily glaciated non-polar region in the world. A new study found that mass balance of glaciers in the HK are highly sensitive to interannual snowfall variability. From the abstract:

“Glaciers in the Himalaya-Karakoram are critical for ensuring water-security of a large fraction of world’s population that is vulnerable to climate impacts. However, the sensitivity of HK glaciers to changes in meteorological forcing remains largely unknown. We analyzed modelled interannual variability of mass balance (MB) that is validated against available observations, to quantify the sensitivity of MB to meteorological factors over the HK.”

Read the full study here.

Biafo Glacier in the Karakoram Mountains in July 2007 (Source: WikiCommons).

Read More on GlacierHub:

Ancient Mosses Add to the Story of the Iceman’s Final Days on Earth

The Right Time to Study the Timing of Glacier Melt and Human Resilience —A New Postdoc Opportunity

Photo Friday: Lewis Pugh’s East Antarctic Supraglacial Swim