Tranter, M. and Brown, G. H. and Hodson, A. J. and Gurnell, A. M. (1996)
Hydrochemistry as an indicator of subglacial drainage system structure: A comparison of Alpine and sub-polar environments
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- Hydrological Processes
- he anion compositions (SO24, HCO−3 and Cl−) of runoff from the Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland and Austre Brøggerbreen, Svalbard are compared to assess whether or not variations in water chemistry with discharge are consistent with current understanding of the subglacial drainage structure of warm- and polythermal-based glaciers. These glacial catchments have very different bedrocks and the subglacial drainage structures are also believed to be different, yet the range of anion concentrations show considerable overlap for SO2−4 and HCO−3. Concentrations of Cl− are higher at Austre Brøggerbreen because of the maritime location of the glacier. Correcting SO2−4 for the snowpack component reveals that the variation in non-snowpack SO2−4 with discharge and with HCO−3 is similar to that observed at the Haut Glacier d'Arolla. Hence, if we assume that the provenance of the non-snowpack SO2−4 is the same in both glacial drainage systems, a distributed drainage system also contributes to runoff at Austre Brøggerbreen. We have no independent means of testing the assumption at present. The lower concentrations of non-snowpack SO2−4 at Austre Brøggerbreen may suggest that a smaller proportion of runoff originates from a distributed drainage system than at the Haut Glacier d'Arolla.