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Long Range Transport and Wet Deposition Fluxes of Major Chemical Species in Snow at Gulmarg in North Western Himalayas (India)

Category: Interaction between Air and Precipitation Chemistry

Volume: 16 | Issue: 3 | Pages: 606-617
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2015.01.0056

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Bablu Kumar1, Sudha Singh1, Gyan Prakash Gupta1, Farooq Ahmad Lone2, Umesh Chandra Kulshrestha 1

  • 1 School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi 110067, India
  • 2 Centre for Climate Change and Mountain Agriculture, SKUAST Kashmir, Shalimar, Srinagar, 190025 (J&K), India


Average pH of snowmelt was recorded as 5.90 ranging from 5.16 to 7.68.
Out of total events, 12% samples showed acidic pH.
Combined depositions of nssSO42–, NO3 and NH4+ are 104% higher than 1986–87.
Higher depositions are due to LRT as well as increased local activities.


The study reports snow chemistry and long range transport of pollutants at Gulmarg in north-western Himalayan region of India during winters of 2012–2013. The pH of snowmelt varied between 5.16 and 7.68 with an average of 5.90. The frequency distribution of pH of snowmelt showed that the maximum number of samples (31%) had pH between 6.81 and 7.20. However, 12% samples were observed to be acidic (below 5.6). Scavenging ratios (SR) values suggested that crustal components (Ca2+, Mg2+) are efficiently removed by snow. The study site has significant influence of non-marine sources. Wet deposition contributed 34, 27, 45, 71, 8 and 13 meq m–2 fluxes of nssSO42–, NO3, NH4+, nssCa2+, nssMg2+ and nssK+ respectively. Both local emissions as well as long range transport (LRT) of pollutants were found to be the sources of these ionic species. Backward airmass trajectory calculations showed that this site received airmasses from six major sectors i.e., i) North Atlantic Ocean origin (NAO), ii) African origin (Af), iii) Middle East origin (ME), iv) European origin (Eu), v) Western India origin (InW), vi) Pakistan origin (Pk). The highest average pH (7.58) of the snowfall was noticed during InW airmasses which had the lowest ratios of nssSO42–/nssCa2+ and NO3/nssCa2+. Very high pH has been observed in precipitation samples at Indian sites due to buffering of acidic components by atmospheric dust rich in CaCO3. The lowest pH (4.94) was noticed for ME airmasses which had the highest nssSO42–/nssCa2+ and NO3/nssCa2+ ratios. Data of present study was compared with a study reported almost three decades ago. We noticed a drastic increase in the concentrations of anthropogenic components such as nssSO42– (114%), NO3 (109%) and NH4+ (90%). This is probably due to increase in LRT of pollutants as well as local activities during past three decades.


Snow chemistry Himalayan region Acidic depositions Wet fluxes Airmass trajectories

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