Precipitation chemistry of Lhasa and other remote towns, Tibet

David D ZHANG, Mervyn PEART, Chi Yung JIM, Y.Q. HE, B.S. LI, J.A. CHEN

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Precipitation event samples during 1987-1988 field expedition periods and 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000 have been collected at Lhasa, Dingri, Dangxiong and Amdo, Tibet. The sampling and analysis were based on WMO recommendations for a background network with some modifications according to local conditions and environmental characteristics. The following precipitation constituents and related parameters were measured: pH, conductivity, CO2 partial pressure, total suspended particles, and the content of K+, Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+, Fe, Mn, NH4 +, Cl-, NO2 -, NO3 -, SO4 2-Br-, HCO3 - and HPO4 2-. Some atmospheric dust samples have also been collected. Over 300 precipitation events have been measured for pH and conductivity. Among these, 60 have been analysed for their chemical components. The results show that Lhasa's precipitation events were constantly alkaline with weighted averages of pH 8.36 in the 1987-1988 period, and 7.5 for 1997 to 1999. Only one event was weakly acidic during 1997-1999. Although CO2 partial pressure, a major producer of acidity in natural water on the Plateau, falls with increasing elevation, the lowest measured CO2 partial pressure can only raise pH value by 0.1 units in the sampling areas. Chemical analysis indicates that the major contributor to alkaline precipitation is the continental dust, which is rich in calcium. The analysis also shows that Tibet is still one of the cleanest areas in the world with little air pollution. However, the decline of pH from the 1980s to 1990s, which was reflected by an increase of NO3 - and SO4 2- in precipitation, alerts us to the urgency of environmental protection in this fragile paradise. Copyright © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-240
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003


Zhang, D. D., Peart, M., Jim, C. Y., He, Y. Q., Li, B. S., & Chen, J. A. (2003). Precipitation chemistry of Lhasa and other remote towns, Tibet. Atmospheric Environment, 37(2), 231-240. doi: 10.1016/S1352-2310(02)00835-X


  • Alkaline precipitation
  • pH
  • Airborne dust
  • CO₂
  • Rainwater chemistry


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