Electrical conductivity, a surrogate measure of total dissolved solids content, and discharge of meltwaters draining from two adjacent contrasting watersheds in the Rocky Mountains, Canada, were recorded continuously from mid-May – August 1979, throughout the ablation season, in order to investigate the influence of snow- and ice-melt on alpine hydrochemistry. Solute concentration varied inversely diurnally with discharge in both nival and glacial meltwaters. Solute content and discharge of the snowmelt-fed Amiskwi River declined with decreasing availability of snowcover through July, followed by increased solute content during low flows in August. In the glacially-fed Peyto Creek, conductivity decreased with increasing flow during spring snow-melt, but during ice-melt domination of flow from mid-July oscillated daily through a limited range. Snow- and ice-melt are shown to have contrasting roles in determining distinctive patterns of diurnal and seasonal temporal variations of discharge and hydrochemistry in mountain basins. Continuous monitoring of water quality is essential in characterising the hydrochemistry of alpine environments.
- Received August 14, 1981.
- © IWA Publishing 1981