Short-term (6 months to 17 years) glaciochemical records have been collected from several glacier basins in the mountains of central Asia. The spatial distribution of snow chemistry in central Asia is controlled by the influx of dust from the large expanse of arid and semiarid regions in central Asia. Glaciers in the Northern and Western Tibetan Plateau show elevated concentrations and elevated annual fluxes of calcium, sodium, chloride, sulphate and nitrate due to the influx of desert dust from nearby arid and semi-arid regions. Glaciers in the Southeastern Tibetan Plateau show lower concentrations and lower annual fluxes of major ions due to longer transport distances of dust from the arid and semi-arid regions of Western China. Snow from the Karakoram and Western Himalaya show ion concentrations similar to those in Southeastern Tibetan Plateau, but much higher annual fluxes suggesting that much of the aerosol and moisture transported with the westerly jet stream is removed as it ascends the Southwest margin of the Tibetan Plateau. Snow from the Southern slopes of the Eastern Himalayas shows very low concentrations and very low annual fluxes of major ions, indicating that this region is relatively free from the chemical influence of Asian dust. The glaciochemical data suggest that glaciers which are removed from large source areas of mineral aerosol, such as those in the Himalaya, the Karakoram, and the Southeastern Tibetan Plateau, are the ones most likely to contain longer-term glaciochemical records which detail annual to decadal variation in the strength of the Asian monsoon and long-range transport of Asian dust.


Earth Sciences, Earth Systems Research Center

Publication Date


Journal Title

Proceedings of the Kathmandu Symposium


IAHS Press

Document Type

Conference Proceeding