Understanding the amount of pollutants in soil and snow is critical to maintaining the quality of alpine water sources, and is the subject of a study published in the Fall 2010 issue of Soil Survey Horizons, published by the Soil Science Society of America.
Researchers at the University of Southern Maine collected soil samples from Mount Everest’s Rongbuk glacier and snow samples were taken from the northeast ridge of the mountain. The samples were then analyzed for trace element concentrations, including cadmium, nickel, zinc, chromium, cobalt, arsenic, copper, manganese, mercury, vanadium, and magnesium.
The results of the study show that most trace elements were at acceptable levels. The amounts arsenic and cadmium in the snow samples, however, exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking water standards, and the amount of arsenic in the soil samples was above the EPA’s screening guidelines.
Arsenic is associated with bladder, skin, and kidney cancer, while cadmium is linked to lung and prostate cancer through the ingestion of contaminated food and water. Both are the by-products of fossil fuel combustion.
Bill Yeo, who authored the study, suggests the levels are a result of the surrounding region’s rapid increase in industrialization. According to Yeo’s research, Asia is the leading contributor of atmospheric pollutants.
Other studies on neighboring mountains have revealed similar findings indicating the potential for multiple water sources to become contaminated. For this study, Mount Everest was selected because of its altitude and remoteness. Other research has been performed at comparable sites in Europe, Japan, Alaska, and New Zealand. Studies in Antarctica found concentrations three to four times lower than in Yeo’s analysis, illustrating that the amount of arsenic and cadmium on Everest came from human contributions.
This featured article of SSH is available for free access at www.soils.org/files/publications/soil-survey-horizons/ssh-fall-2010-feature.pdf until the next quarterly issue.
Soil Survey Horizons, www.soils.org/publications/soil-survey-horizons, is a medium for expressing ideas, problems, and philosophies concerning the study of soils in the field. Articles include research updates, soil news, history of soil survey, and personal essays from the lives of soil scientists. Soil Survey Horizons is published by the Soil Science Society of America.
The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a progressive, international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based in Madison, WI, and founded in 1936, SSSA is the professional home for 6,000+ members dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. It provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.
SSSA supports its members by providing quality research-based publications, educational programs, certifications, and science policy initiatives via a Washington, DC, office. For more information, visit www.soils.org.
Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine