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Not much research has been done to distinguish between glacier and snow cover contribution to the discharge and ion concentration in the runoff of Himalayan basins, leading to misrepresentation of snow melt contribution as glacier melt (Jeelani et al. 2012). In this context, the present study represents the hydrochemical comparison of a snow-dominated basin with a glacier-dominated basin, as shown in Table 5. The biggest difference observed here is the lower ionic concentration of the meltwater from the snow-fed catchment during the major period of the melting season. Second is the higher ionic concentration of snow meltwater reported during the late melt period. In monsoon glacial systems, this occurred either during the early melt period or during the peak melt period (Table 5). A comparison of major cation (Ca) and anion (HCO3) reveals this characteristic difference. It is also noted that the lowest elemental concentration of the snow-dominated system is lower than the glacier system except for a few exceptions. However, other hydrochemical characteristics of both systems look very similar. Both the systems have a dominance of Ca, HCO3 and SO4 as the dominant ion (Singh et al. 1998; Hasnain & Thayyen 1999; Ahmad & Hasnain 2001; Kumar et al. 2009) and equivalent ratios of Ca + Mg/TZ+ (0.8–0.9) and Na + K/TZ+ (0.1–0.12) are similar to different glaciers (Singh & Hasnain 1998; Kumar et al. 2009). A Piper plot also indicates similar results for snow and glacier dominant systems. The glacier as well as the snow system produces dilute waters but the glacier system has a higher component of subglacial flows, which is chemically enriched due to higher residence time and close contact with high sediment load, resulting in higher ionic concentration of glacier waters.

Table 5

Comparison of major ions chemistry of the upper Ganglass catchment with other glaciers

 CaMgNaKHCO3SO4ClReference
Dokirani Glacier 
 Pre-monsoon 262–608 40–117 23–65 45–73 159–397 160–418 2–24 Hasnain & Thayyen (1999)  
 Monsoon 236–1,941 31–80 12–36 41–128 128–1,053 85–1,140 1–12 
 Post-monsoon 234–593 37–107 20–57 40–68 168–384 137–431 1–7 
Gangotri Glacier 
 Pre-monsoon 153–478 160–368 26.2–98.8 36.9–80.7 169–300 300–698 0.34–32.9 Singh et al. (2014)  
 Monsoon 58–470 57.1–360 21.3–91.7 8.21–96.4 100–296 110–901 0.56–40.6 
 Post-monsoon 170–429 164–336 32.2–88.3 32.8–81.8 150–283 323–239 2.54–32.4 
Ganglass catchment 
 Early melt period 67.35–391 25.83–72.83 10–69.61 6.82–25.54 110–440 37.96–61.90 8.18–14.10 Present study 
 Peak melt period 94.45–243 24.08–59.08 8.09–52.13 3.69–19.87 80–290 41.73–60.94 6.21–13.26 
 Late melt period 190–1,159 49.33–282 24.61–37.74 9.69–14.97 200–1,450 41.25–62.27 9.59–13.26 
 CaMgNaKHCO3SO4ClReference
Dokirani Glacier 
 Pre-monsoon 262–608 40–117 23–65 45–73 159–397 160–418 2–24 Hasnain & Thayyen (1999)  
 Monsoon 236–1,941 31–80 12–36 41–128 128–1,053 85–1,140 1–12 
 Post-monsoon 234–593 37–107 20–57 40–68 168–384 137–431 1–7 
Gangotri Glacier 
 Pre-monsoon 153–478 160–368 26.2–98.8 36.9–80.7 169–300 300–698 0.34–32.9 Singh et al. (2014)  
 Monsoon 58–470 57.1–360 21.3–91.7 8.21–96.4 100–296 110–901 0.56–40.6 
 Post-monsoon 170–429 164–336 32.2–88.3 32.8–81.8 150–283 323–239 2.54–32.4 
Ganglass catchment 
 Early melt period 67.35–391 25.83–72.83 10–69.61 6.82–25.54 110–440 37.96–61.90 8.18–14.10 Present study 
 Peak melt period 94.45–243 24.08–59.08 8.09–52.13 3.69–19.87 80–290 41.73–60.94 6.21–13.26 
 Late melt period 190–1,159 49.33–282 24.61–37.74 9.69–14.97 200–1,450 41.25–62.27 9.59–13.26 

Units are in μeq/l.

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