• Assessing the Role of Photochemistry in Driving the Composition of Dissolved Organic Matter in Glacier Runoff

      Holt, Amy D.; Kellerman, Anne M.; Li, Wenbo; Stubbins, Aron; Wagner, Sasha; McKenna, Amy; Fellman, Jason B.; Hood, Eran; Spencer, Robert G. M. (American Geophysical Union, 2021-11-04)
      Dissolved organic matter (DOM) in glacier runoff is aliphatic-rich, yet studies have proposed that DOM originates mainly from allochthonous, aromatic, and often aged material. Allochthonous organic matter (OM) is exposed to ultraviolet radiation both in atmospheric transport and post-deposition on the glacier surface. Thus, we evaluate photochemistry as a mechanism to account for the compositional disconnect between allochthonous OM sources and glacier runoff DOM composition. Six endmember OM sources (including soils and diesel particulate matter) were leached and photo-irradiated for 28 days in a solar simulator, until >90% of initial chromophoric DOM was removed. Ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry was used to compare the molecular composition of endmember leachates pre- and post-irradiation to DOM in supraglacial and bulk runoff from the Greenland Ice Sheet and Juneau Icefield (Alaska), respectively. Photoirradiation drove molecular level convergence between the initially aromatic-rich leachates and aromatic-poor glacial samples, selectively removing aromatic compounds (−80 ± 19% relative abundance) and producing aliphatics (+75 ± 35% relative abundance). Molecular level glacier runoff DOM composition was statistically indistinguishable to post-irradiation leachates. Bray-Curtis analysis showed substantial similarity in the molecular formulae present between glacier samples and post-irradiation leachates. Post-irradiation leachates contained 84 ± 7.4% of the molecular formulae, including 72 ± 17% of the aliphatic formulae, detected in glacier samples. Our findings suggest that photodegradation, either in transit to or on glacier surfaces, could provide a mechanistic pathway to account for the disconnect between proposed aromatic, aged sources of OM and the aliphatic-rich fingerprint of glacial DOM.
    • Black Carbon / Juneau Icefield

      Nathlich, Abigail (2017-07-15)
      The original objective of my project was to look at how black carbon is quickening the melt rate of the Juneau Icefield as well as what the effects are on snow melt in urban and rural areas around Juneau. The hope for the results of this study are to see a visible representation of how quickly (or not quickly) the black carbon is melting the snowpack. It will be important to continue this study to look at how it is changing long term, but for now we are in the beginning stages of this study. We know that black carbon is effecting the icefield and the glaciers but this will help us to see what exactly it is effecting and how severe it is.
    • A Changing Hydrological Regime: Trends in Magnitude and Timing of Glacier Ice Melt and Glacier Runoff in a High Latitude Coastal Watershed

      Young, Joanna C.; Pettit, Erin; Arendt, Anthony; Hood, Eran; Liston, Glen E.; Beamer, Jordan (American Geophysical Union, 2021-05-20)
      With a unique biogeophysical signature relative to other freshwater sources, meltwater from glaciers plays a crucial role in the hydrological and ecological regime of high latitude coastal areas. Today, as glaciers worldwide exhibit persistent negative mass balance, glacier runoff is changing in both magnitude and timing, with potential downstream impacts on infrastructure, ecosystems, and ecosystem resources. However, runoff trends may be difficult to detect in coastal systems with large precipitation variability. Here, we use the coupled energy balance and water routing model SnowModel-HydroFlow to examine changes in timing and magnitude of runoff from the western Juneau Icefield in Southeast Alaska between 1980 and 2016. We find that under sustained glacier mass loss (−0.57 ± 0.12 m w. e. a−1), several hydrological variables related to runoff show increasing trends. This includes annual and spring glacier ice melt volumes (+10% and +16% decade−1) which, because of higher proportions of precipitation, translate to smaller increases in glacier runoff (+3% and +7% decade−1) and total watershed runoff (+1.4% and +3% decade−1). These results suggest that the western Juneau Icefield watersheds are still in an increasing glacier runoff period prior to reaching “peak water.” In terms of timing, we find that maximum glacier ice melt is occurring earlier (2.5 days decade−1), indicating a change in the source and quality of freshwater being delivered downstream in the early summer. Our findings highlight that even in maritime climates with large precipitation variability, high latitude coastal watersheds are experiencing hydrological regime change driven by ongoing glacier mass loss.