Trace metal concentrations in snow from the Yukon River Basin, Alaska and Canada

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DOI: 10.1061/40792(173)263



We report here on metal concentrations in snow collected from the Yukon River basin. Atmospheric transport of metals and subsequent deposition is a known mechanism for introducing metals into the northern environment. Potential sources of airborne elements are locally generated terrestrial sources, locally derived anthropogenic sources, and long range atmospheric transport. Sites were distributed along the Yukon River corridor and within the southeastern, central, and western basin areas. Snow samples were taken in the spring of 2001 and 2002 when the snow pack was at its maximum. Total-depth composite samples were taken from pits using clean techniques. Mercury was analyzed using cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectrometry. All other elements were analyzed by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. In samples from remote sites, the concentration for selected metals ranged from: 0.015 - 0.34 ug/L for V, 0.01 - 0.22 ug/L for Ni, < 0.05 - 0.52 ug/L for Cu, 0.14 - 2.8 ug/L for Zn, 0.002 - 0.046 ug/L for Cd, 0.03 - 0.13 ug/L for Pb, 0.00041 - 0.0023 ug/L for filtered-Hg. Because the entire snow pack was sampled and there was no evidence of mid-season thaw, these concentrations represent the seasonal deposition. There was no significant difference in the seasonal deposition of V, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, and Pb at these sites between 2001 and 2002, and no north-south or east-west trend in concentrations. Samples taken from within communities, however, had significantly higher concentrations of V, Ni, Cu, Zn, and Cd in 2001, and Ni, Cu, and Pb in 2002 relative to the remote sites. Our data indicate that the atmospheric deposition of metals in the Yukon River basin is relatively uniform both spatially and temporally. However, communities have a measurable but variable effect on metal concentrations. Copyright ASCE 2005.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Conference Paper
Publication Subtype:
Conference Paper
Trace metal concentrations in snow from the Yukon River Basin, Alaska and Canada
0784407924; 9780784407929
Year Published:
Larger Work Title:
World Water Congress 2005: Impacts of Global Climate Change - Proceedings of the 2005 World Water and Environmental Resources Congress
First page:
Conference Title:
2005 World Water and Environmental Resources Congress
Conference Location:
Anchorage, AK
Conference Date:
15 May 2005 through 19 May 2005