Received: 09 Jul 2014 – Accepted for review: 03 Aug 2014 – Discussion started: 13 Oct 2014
Abstract. Microorganisms are continuously blown onto the glacier snow, and thus the glacial depth profiles provide excellent archives of microbial communities and climatic and environmental changes. However, it is uncertain about how aeolian processes that cause climatic changes control the distribution of microorganisms in the glacier ice. In the present study, microbial density, stable isotopic ratios, 18O / 16O in the precipitation, and mineral particle concentrations along the glacial depth profiles were collected from ice cores from the Muztag Ata glacier and the Dunde ice cap. The ice core data showed that microbial abundance was often, but not always associated with high concentrations of particles. Results also revealed clear seasonal patterning with high microbial abundance occurring in both the cooling autumn and warming spring-summer seasons. Microbial comparisons among the neighbouring glaciers display a heterogeneous spatial pattern, with the highest microbial cell density in the glaciers lying adjacent to the central Asian deserts and lowest microbial density in the southwestern margin of the Tibetan Plateau. In conclusion, microbial data of the glaciers indicates the aeolian deposits of microorganisms in the glacier ice and that the spatial patterns of microorgansisms are related to differences in sources of microbial flux and intensity of aeolian activities in the current regions. The results strongly support our hypothesis of aeolian activities being the main agents controlling microbial load in the glacier ice.
How to cite. Chen, Y., Li, X.-K., Si, J., Wu, G.-J., Tian, L.-D., and Xiang, S.-R.: Influence of aeolian activities on the distribution of microbial abundance in glacier ice, Biogeosciences Discuss., 11, 14531–14549, https://doi.org/10.5194/bgd-11-14531-2014, 2014.