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Particulate carbonate matter in snow from selected sites in the south-central Rocky Mountains

Atmospheric Environment

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and
DOI: 10.1016/1352-2310(94)90033-7

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Abstract

Trends in snow acidity reflect the balance between strong acid inputs and reactions with neutralizing materials. Carbonate dust can be an important contributor of buffering capacity to snow however, its concentration in snow is difficult to quantify because it dissolves rapidly in snowmelt. In snow with neutral or acidic pH, most calcite would dissolve during sample melting if snow samples were processed using standard techniques. Here a method is described for separating particulate carbonate matter from snow. Snow samples were melted in solutions close to saturation with calcite, decreasing the dissolution rate by a factor of 100-200 compared with natural melting of snow. Particulate matter larger than 0.45 ??m in diameter was then filtered from solution and analysed for carbonate content. Particulate carbonate matter concentrations are reported for 25 sites in the south-central Rocky Mountains. Results are compared with Ca2+ and H+ concentrations and regional trends are evaluated. In Colorado, mean particulate carbonate in snow was 43 ??g kg-1 at sampling sites in the southern mountains and only 4 ??g kg-1 at sites in the northern mountains. The higher calcite concentrations in the south probably are related to the proximity of sampling sites to major outcrops of limestone. Particulate carbonate at sampling sites in Utah and Wyoming ranged from 3-35 ??g kg-1. The levels of particulate calcite measured in snow samples are sufficient to neutralize an average of 0.4 ??eq H+ kg-1 snow. Strong acid anion concentrations in samples from east of Craig, Colorado, were 30-50% higher than in samples from the Colorado Front Range, but H+ concentrations were 400-600% higher east of Craig. Relatively low Ca2+ concentrations in the samples from east of Craig indicate that the difference in snow acidity was due mostly to lower concentrations of neutralizing materials.Trends in snow acidity reflect the balance between strong acid inputs and reactions with neutralizing materials. Carbonate dust can be an important contributor of buffering capacity to snow; however, its concentration in snow is difficult to quantify because it dissolves rapidly in snowmelt. In snow with neutral or acidic pH, most calcite would dissolve during sample melting if snow samples were processed using standard techniques. Here a method is described for separating particulate carbonate matter from snow. Snow samples were melted in solutions close to saturation with calcite, decreasing the dissolution rate by a factor of 100-200 compared with natural melting of snow. Particulate matter larger than .45 micrometers in diameter was then filtered from solution and analyzed for carbonate content.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Particulate carbonate matter in snow from selected sites in the south-central Rocky Mountains
Series title:
Atmospheric Environment
DOI:
10.1016/1352-2310(94)90033-7
Volume
28
Issue:
4
Year Published:
1994
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Atmospheric Environment
First page:
575
Last page:
584