Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2016, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (6): 722-734.doi: 10.1007/s11442-016-1295-y

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Glacier meltwater runoff process analysis using δD and δ18O isotope and chemistry at the remote Laohugou glacier basin in western Qilian Mountains, China

Caixia WANG1(), Zhiwen DONG2,*(), Xiang QIN2,3, Jie ZHANG1, Wentao DU2,3, Jinkui WU2   

  1. 1. College of Geography and Environmental Science, Northwest Normal University, Lanzhou 730070, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China
    3. Qilian Mountain Glacier and Ecological Environment Research Station, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • Received:2015-07-24 Accepted:2015-10-29 Online:2016-06-15 Published:2016-06-15
  • Contact: Zhiwen DONG;
  • About author:

    Author: Wang Caixia (1987-), Master Student, specialized in environmental change in arid regions.E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41301065;The West Light Program for Talent Cultivation of Chinese Academy of Sciences


Stable hydrogen and oxygen isotope has important implication on water and moisture transportation tracing research. Based on stable hydrogen (δD) and oxygen (δ18O) isotope using a Picarro L1102-i and water chemistry (e.g. major ions, pH, EC and TDS) measurement, this study discussed the temporal variation and characteristics of stable hydrogen and oxygen isotope, chemistry (e.g. TDS, pH, EC, Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+ and Cl-) in various water bodies including glacier meltwater runoff, ice and snow, and precipitation at the Laohugou glacier basin during June 2012 to September 2013. Results showed that δD and δ18O in the meltwater runoff varied obviously with the temporal change from June to September, showing firstly increasing trend and then decreasing trend, with the highest values in July with high air temperature and strong glacier melting, which could indicate the temporal change of glacier melting process and extent. Variations of δD and δ18O in the runoff were similar with that of snow and ice on the glacier, and the values were also above the GMWL, which probably implied that the glacier runoff was mainly originated from glacier melting and precipitation supply. The glacier meltwater chemical type at the Laohugou glacier basin were mainly composed by Ca-Na-HCO3-SO4 and Ca-Mg-HCO3-SO4, which also varied evidently with the glacier melting process in summer. By analyzing the temporal change of stable hydrogen and oxygen isotope and chemistry in the melting period, we find it is easy to separate the components of the snow and ice, atmospheric precipitation and melt-runoff in the river, which could reflect the change process of glacier melting during the melting period, and thus this work can contribute to the glacier runoff change study of large-scale region by stable isotope and geochemical method in future.

Key words: meltwater runoff, stable hydrogen and oxygen isotope, chemistry, runoff process