Exploring the ground ice recharge near permafrost table on the central Qinghai-Tibet Plateau using chemical and isotopic data

Research paper by Weihua Wang, Tonghua Wu; Lin Zhao; Ren Li; Xiaofan Zhu; Wanrui Wang; Shuhua Yang; Yanhui Qin; Junmin Hao

Indexed on: 14 Apr '18Published on: 11 Apr '18Published in: Journal of Hydrology


Publication date: May 2018 Source:Journal of Hydrology, Volume 560 Author(s): Weihua Wang, Tonghua Wu, Lin Zhao, Ren Li, Xiaofan Zhu, Wanrui Wang, Shuhua Yang, Yanhui Qin, Junmin Hao Thawing permafrost on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP) has great impacts on the local hydrological process by way of causing ground ice to thaw. Until now there is little knowledge on ground ice hydrology near permafrost table under a warming climate. This study applied stable tracers (isotopes and chloride) and hydrograph separation model to quantify the sources of ground ice near permafrost table in continuous permafrost regions of the central QTP. The results indicated that the ground ice near permafrost table was mainly supplied by active layer water and permafrost water, accounting for 58.9 to 87.0% and 13.0 to 41.1%, respectively, which implying that the active layer was the dominant source. The contribution rates from the active layer to the ground ice in alpine meadow (59 to 69%) was less than that in alpine steppe (70 to 87%). It showed well-developed hydrogeochemical depth gradients, presenting depleted isotopes and positive chemical gradients with depth within the soil layer. The effects of evaporation and freeze-out fractionation on the soil water and ground ice were evident. The results provide additional insights into ground ice sources and cycling near permafrost table in permafrost terrain, and would be helpful for improving process-based detailed hydrologic models under the occurring global warming.