Snow cover on the mountains: Still white and pure? (2008)

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The cryosphere is the body of the world's frozen water, composed of sea and continental ice, snow cover, and perpetually frozen soil and rocks (permafrost). Mountain glaciers cover about 160,000 km2 (World Glacier Monitoring Service 2008), sometimes reaching the lowlands and the sea. Awareness of their importance for water supply is rapidly increasing, as is their vulnerability as frozen ?water towers? for the millennium. The snow cover is the outer surface of the cryosphere, with greater exposure to dust, pollutants, and ultimately contamination. There is a general perception of the importance of the cryosphere as a crucial thermodynamic system capable of storing water (when not needed) during the cold season and giving it back during the hot season (when necessary). At the same time, knowledge of the pattern and amount of contamination and the dynamics and interactions between pollutants and snow before, during, and after the melting processes is poor. Preliminary results of current research in Europe show a strong ionic release concentrated during the first phases of the melting season that could have a noticeable impact, not only on drinking water. The Environmental Monitoring of Snow project applied a relatively simple methodology to monitor the contamination of snow in Italy's mountains. This methodology could easily be used in other parts of the world, alerting the public to potential risks menacing water quality.
Year: 2008
Language: English
In: Mountain Research and Development, Vol 28, No 3/4, Aug?Nov 2008: 222?225:,