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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 22, issue 10 | Copyright
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 5579-5598, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 26 Oct 2018

Research article | 26 Oct 2018

Evaluation of lacustrine groundwater discharge, hydrologic partitioning, and nutrient budgets in a proglacial lake in the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau: using 222Rn and stable isotopes

Xin Luo1,2,3, Xingxing Kuang4, Jiu Jimmy Jiao1,2,3, Sihai Liang5, Rong Mao1,2,4, Xiaolang Zhang1,2,4, and Hailong Li4 Xin Luo et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, P. R. China
  • 2The University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen Research Institute (SRI), Shenzhen, P. R. China
  • 3The University of Hong Kong-Zhejiang Institute of Research and Innovation (HKU-ZIRI), Hangzhou, PR China
  • 4School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Southern University of Science and Technology, 1088 Xueyuan Rd., Shenzhen, China
  • 5School of Water Resources & Environment, China University of Geosciences, 29 Xueyuan Road, Beijing, China

Abstract. Proglacial lakes are good natural laboratories to investigate groundwater and glacier dynamics under current climate conditions and to explore biogeochemical cycling under pristine lake status. This study conducted a series of investigations of 222Rn, stable isotopes, nutrients, and other hydrogeochemical parameters in Ximen Co Lake, a remote proglacial lake in the east of the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau (QTP). A radon mass balance model was used to quantify the lacustrine groundwater discharge (LGD) of the lake, leading to an LGD estimate of 10.3±8.2mmd−1. Based on the three-endmember models of stable 18O and Cl, the hydrologic partitioning of the lake is obtained, which shows that groundwater discharge only accounts for 7.0% of the total water input. The groundwater-derived DIN and DIP loadings constitute 42.9% and 5.5% of the total nutrient loading to the lakes, indicating the significance of LGD in delivering disproportionate DIN into the lake. This study presents the first attempt to evaluate the LGD and hydrologic partitioning in the glacial lake by coupling radioactive and stable isotopic approaches and the findings advance the understanding of nutrient budgets in the proglacial lakes of the QTP. The study is also instructional in revealing the hydrogeochemical processes in proglacial lakes elsewhere.

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