Catchment-scale evaluation of pollution potential of urban snow at two residential catchments in southern Finland

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Despite the crucial role of snow in the hydrological cycle in cold climate conditions, monitoring studies of urban snow quality often lack discussions about the relevance of snow in the catchment-scale runoff management. In this study, measurements of snow quality were conducted at two residential catchments in Espoo, Finland, simultaneously with continuous runoff measurements. The results of the snow quality were used to produce catchment-scale estimates of areal snow mass loads (SML). Based on the results, urbanization reduced areal snow water equivalent but increased pollutant accumulation in snow: SMLs in a medium-density residential catchment were two- to four-fold higher in comparison with a low-density residential catchment. The main sources of pollutants were related to vehicular traffic and road maintenance, but also pet excrement increased concentrations to a high level. Ploughed snow can contain 50% of the areal pollutant mass stored in snow despite its small surface area within a catchment.

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