The differing biogeochemical and microbial signatures of glaciers and rock glaciers

Journal of Geophysical Research G: Biogeosciences
By: , and 



Glaciers and rock glaciers supply water and bioavailable nutrients to headwater mountain lakes and streams across all regions of the American West. Here we present a comparative study of the metal, nutrient, and microbial characteristics of glacial and rock glacial influence on headwater ecosystems in three mountain ranges of the contiguous U.S.: The Cascade Mountains, Rocky Mountains, and Sierra Nevada. Several meltwater characteristics (water temperature, conductivity, pH, heavy metals, nutrients, complexity of dissolved organic matter (DOM), and bacterial richness and diversity) differed significantly between glacier and rock glacier meltwaters, while other characteristics (Ca2+, Fe3+, SiO2 concentrations, reactive nitrogen, and microbial processing of DOM) showed distinct trends between mountain ranges regardless of meltwater source. Some characteristics were affected both by glacier type and mountain range (e.g. temperature, ammonium (NH4+) and nitrate (NO3- ) concentrations, bacterial diversity). Due to the ubiquity of rock glaciers and the accelerating loss of the low latitude glaciers our results point to the important and changing influence that these frozen features place on headwater ecosystems.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The differing biogeochemical and microbial signatures of glaciers and rock glaciers
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research G: Biogeosciences
DOI 10.1002/2015JG003236
Volume 121
Issue 3
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 14 p.
First page 919
Last page 932
Country United States
State California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming
Other Geospatial Cascade Mountains, Sierra Nevada, Rocky Mountains
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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