Over much of Norway a large portion of the yearly precipitation falls as snow, and the pollutants contained in precipitation accumulate in the snowpack to be released during a short period in spring. Atmospheric fallout of sulfur compounds has been estimated to be about 30% of the total deposition in Norway, but fallout on the snow cover is probably considerably smaller. During winters with little or no snowmelt before spring, most of the pollutant load is retained in the snowpack. Laboratory and field lysimeter experiments indicate that 50–80% of the pollutant load is released with the first 30% of the meltwater. The average concentration of pollutants in this fraction is 2–2.5 times the concentration in the snowpack itself. The very first fractions may contain more than 5 times the snowpack concentrations. These high concentrations may be due to a freeze‐concentration process during snow recrystallization and melting in which contaminants accumulate preferentially at the surfaces of ice particles. The resulting increase in the acid concentration of low‐buffered water courses occasionally leads to severe physiological stress to fish and other aquatic organisms and even to massive fish kills. This process occurs at a time which is critical to the hatching stage of salmonid fish species.
Water Resources Research – Wiley
Published: Aug 1, 1978
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