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Article

Temporal Variation of Suspended Sediment and Solute Fluxes in a Permafrost-Underlain Headwater Catchment on the Tibetan Plateau

by 1,2,*, 3, 4 and 1
1
College of Geographic Science, Hunan Normal University, Changsha 410081, China
2
State Key Laboratory of Hydrology-Water Resources and Hydraulic Engineering, Nanjing Hydraulic Research Institute, Nanjing 210098, China
3
Hunan Institute of Science and Technology, College of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Yueyang 414006, China
4
Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing 100101, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Bommanna Krishnappan
Water 2022, 14(18), 2782; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14182782
Received: 10 August 2022 / Revised: 26 August 2022 / Accepted: 2 September 2022 / Published: 7 September 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Isotope Tracers in Watershed Hydrology)
Under global warming, the permafrost-underlain headwater catchments of the Tibetan Plateau have undergone extensive permafrost degradation and changes in precipitation characteristics, which may substantially alter the riverine suspended sediment and riverine solute fluxes. However, these fluxes and their influencing factors in such catchments are poorly understood. We studied the suspended sediment and solute fluxes in a permafrost-underlain headwater catchment on the northeastern Tibetan Plateau, based on comprehensive measurements of various water types in spring and summer in 2017. The daily flux of suspended sediment in spring was close to that in summer, but heavy rainfall events following a relatively long dry period made the largest contribution to the suspended sediment fluxes in summer. The riverine solute flux (in tons) was 12.6% and 27.8% of the suspended sediment flux (in tons) in spring and summer, indicating the dominating role of physical weathering in total material exportation. The snowmelt mobilized more suspended sediment fluxes and fewer solutes fluxes than summer rain, which may be due to the meltwater erosion and freeze–thaw processes in spring and the thicker thawed soil layer and better vegetation coverage in summer, and the longer contact time between the soil pore water and the soil and rock minerals after the thawing of frozen soil. The input of snowmelt driven by higher air temperatures in spring and the direct input of rainfall in summer would both act to dilute the stream water; however, the supra-permafrost water, with high solute contents, recharged the adjacent streamflow as frozen soil seeps and thus moderated the decrease in the riverine solute content during heavy snowmelt or rainfall events. With the permafrost degradation under future global warming, the solute fluxes in permafrost-underlain headwater catchments may increase, but the suspended sediment flux in spring may decrease due to the expansion of discontinuous permafrost areas and active layer thickness. View Full-Text
Keywords: Tibetan Plateau; permafrost thawing; snowmelt; suspended sediment; supra-permafrost water; solute content Tibetan Plateau; permafrost thawing; snowmelt; suspended sediment; supra-permafrost water; solute content
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MDPI and ACS Style

Xiao, X.; Liu, Z.; Liu, K.; Wang, J. Temporal Variation of Suspended Sediment and Solute Fluxes in a Permafrost-Underlain Headwater Catchment on the Tibetan Plateau. Water 2022, 14, 2782. https://doi.org/10.3390/w14182782

AMA Style

Xiao X, Liu Z, Liu K, Wang J. Temporal Variation of Suspended Sediment and Solute Fluxes in a Permafrost-Underlain Headwater Catchment on the Tibetan Plateau. Water. 2022; 14(18):2782. https://doi.org/10.3390/w14182782

Chicago/Turabian Style

Xiao, Xiong, Zhu Liu, Keshao Liu, and Jiaqi Wang. 2022. "Temporal Variation of Suspended Sediment and Solute Fluxes in a Permafrost-Underlain Headwater Catchment on the Tibetan Plateau" Water 14, no. 18: 2782. https://doi.org/10.3390/w14182782

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