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A glacier through a chemist’s lens

In the article entitled “Chemical denudation and the role of sulfide oxidation at Werenskioldbreen, Svalbard”, written by Łukasz Stachnik, Elżbieta Majchrowska (now Łepkowska), Jacob C. Yde, Adam Nawrot, Katarzyna Cichała-Kamrowska, Dariusz Ignatiuk and Agnieszka Piechota, you can read about several different processes taking place in proglacial waters (that is, waters coming from a melting glacier).

In the ablation period – or when air temperature exceeds 0°C – water from a melting glacier carries away dissolved chemical compounds. The water’s chemical composition depends on the geology of the area, its distance from the sea and the quality of atmospheric precipitation.

The study described in the article was conducted within the forefield of Werenskiold Glacier (Norwegian breen means glacier in English). It showed that only in 2011, between 121.9 and 132.2 tons of dissolved material were carried away by the water from each square kilometre of the glacier’s basin! This process is known as chemical denudation.

The article was published in Journal of Hydrology (vol. 538, July 2016, pp. 177-193). If you wish to learn more on the subject, go ahead and read it all on the journal’s website. Alternatively, you can find it by entering the following publication code into the search engine: