Snow dumps and the release of contaminants during snow melt

February 7, 2014 • Filed under: News — melanie.rohr

Associate WERC faculty Aaron Dotson discusses organic contamination of surface water from snow dumps during snow melt.

Friday Seminar Series

  • What: Snow Dumps: Where Urban Snow Goes to Melt
  • Who: Aaron D. Dotson, UAA-Civil Engineering & UAF-WERC Associate
  • When: 3:30-4:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7
  • Where: Duckering 531

Snow scavenges organic contaminants from the atmosphere and has been shown to retain a variety of contaminants. Concentrated release of organic contaminants during onset of melting due to interstitial melting suggests an immediate transfer of organic contaminants from snow pack to surface water via storm drainages. Urban environments in climates with extended periods of snow such as Alaska, Maine, Minnesota, Canada, and Northern Europe therefore may experience organic contamination of surface water during snowmelt. This talk will present the past two years of results on a multidimensional assessment of concentration and changes of organic contaminants, specifically 1H-benzotriazole (BT) and its methylated forms 4- and 5-methyl 1H-benzotriazole (tolyltriazole TT) during snowmelt in an urban creek that passes through Anchorage, Alaska and discharges into Cook Inlet and in multiple snow dump sites. Measured concentrations of BT and TT are comparable to those in streams passing through larger industrial Cities in Eur ope and TT peak concentrations are even higher than those previously determined in streams in the U.S. The talk will provide insight into the role of the engineered urban ecosystem on the capture and storage of the organics present in these snow facilities using bulk data measurements such as dissolved organic carbon, ultraviolet absorbance and fluorescence.

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Photo of Mikala Larsen standing next to one of Anchorage’s snow dumps during Spring 2012. Photo by Aaron Dotson.