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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The downstream effects of salt application on Horstman Glacier, Whistler, British Columbia Teichrob, Nicolas Daniel


Skiing and snowboarding occur on the seasonal snow of Blackcomb Mountain, BC, which includes two glaciers: Blackcomb Glacier and Horstman Glacier. Ski operations involve the application of salt (NaCl) to the glacier and redistribution of snow on Horstman Glacier to allow for additional skiing and snowboarding during the months of June and July. Although European studies have documented that salting ski pistes can have negative effects on the environment, no research has been conducted to study the continuous application of salt onto a glacier and the effects on the downstream aquatic environment. In this study we examined the temporal changes in chloride concentration in Horstman Creek. Using neighbouring Blackcomb Glacier and Blackcomb Creek as a reference system, automatic samplers were used to collect water samples for two periods of sixteen days each during the summer of 2008. The concentration of chloride in Horstman Creek was found to be greatly elevated compared to regional background values and those of Blackcomb Creek during both sampling periods. The pattern of chloride concentration suggests that some of the NaCl applied to the glacier makes its way downstream as initial snowmelt runoff and some is stored within the glacier and released at a later time. However, despite the fact that 90 020 kg of NaCl was applied during summer 2008, the elevated concentrations did not reach a level of environmental concern during the study period.

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