During 1993-97, samples of the full depth of the Rocky Mountain snowpack were collected at 52 sites from northern New Mexico to Montana and analyzed for major-ion concentrations. Concentrations of acidity, sulfate, nitrate, and calcium increased from north to south along the mountain range. In the northern part of the study area, acidity was most correlated (negatively) with calcium. Acidity was strongly correlated (positively) with nitrate and sulfate in the southern part and for the entire network. Acidity in the south exceeded the maximum acidity measured in snowpack of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains. Principal component analysis indicates three solute associations we characterize as: (1) acid (acidity, sulfate, and nitrate), (2) soil (calcium, magnesium, and potassium), and (3) salt (sodium, chloride, and ammonium). Concentrations of acid solutes in the snowpack are similar to concentrations in nearby wetfall collectors, whereas, concentrations of soil solutes are much higher in the snowpack than in wetfall. Thus, dryfall of acid solutes during the snow season is negligible, as is gypsum from soils. Snowpack sampling offers a cost-effective complement to sampling of wetfall in areas where wetfall is difficult to sample and where the snowpack accumulates throughout the winter. Copyright ?? 2001 .
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Major-ion chemistry of the Rocky Mountain snowpack, USA