Abstract by Delaney Rose
Examining the impact of melting glaciers on rivers and streams in Alaska
Glaciers in southeastern Alaska are melting at higher rates than ever before. As a consequence, rivers and streams are now at risk of contamination from metals deposited on the glaciers. This study aims to gauge the current impact of melting glaciers on stream chemistry. Measurements of water quality (major ions, isotopes, specific conductivity, alkalinity, pH) were made for eight different rivers and streams in Alaska during the summer of 2019. Measurements of trace metal concentration are ongoing. Measurements of turbidity show marked variation between glacial streams (20 to 500 FNU/NTU), proving ineffective as a marker of glacial or nonglacial origins. Mercury concentrations are well below the EPA Aquatic standards and show the highest concentration (0.803 ng/L) in a sample from a mine drainage. Water from this sample is used as a high-end comparison for other samples. A field blank provides a clean-water comparison. This study will provide a baseline for future monitoring of Alaskan streams and rivers as glaciers continue to melt.