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Journal Articles Water Resources Research Year : 2013

Water isotopes as tools to document oceanic sources of precipitation


The isotopic composition of precipitation, in deuterium, oxygen 18 and oxygen 17, depends on the climatic conditions prevailing in the oceanic regions where it originates, mainly the sea surface temperature and the relative humidity of air. This dependency applies to present-day precipitation but also to past records which are extracted, for example, from polar ice cores. In turn, coisotopic measurements of deuterium and oxygen 18 offer the possibility to retrieve information about the oceanic origin of modern precipitation as well as about past changes in sea surface temperature and relative humidity of air. This interpretation of isotopic measurements has largely relied on simple Rayleigh-type isotopic models and is complemented by Lagrangian back trajectory analysis of moisture sources. It is now complemented by isotopic General Circulation Models (IGCM) in which the origin of precipitation can be tagged. We shortly review published results documenting this link between the oceanic sources of precipitation and their isotopic composition. We then present experiments performed with two different IGCMs, the GISS model II and the LMDZ model. We focus our study on marine water vapor and its contribution to precipitation over Antarctica and over the Andean region of South America. We show how IGCM experiments allow us to relate climatic conditions prevailing in the oceanic source of precipitation to its isotopic composition. Such experiments support, at least qualitatively, the current interpretation of ice core isotopic data in terms of changes in sea surface temperature. Additionally, we discuss recent studies clearly showing the added value of oxygen 17 measurements. Key Points Link between the isotopic content of precipitation and its oceanic origin Application of this method to polar ice cores & Andean precipitation Potential of combining deuterium-excess and oxygen 17-excess ©2013. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


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hal-01108534 , version 1 (12-01-2021)



Jean Jouzel, G. Delaygue, Amaelle Landais, Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Camille Risi, et al.. Water isotopes as tools to document oceanic sources of precipitation. Water Resources Research, 2013, 49 (11), pp.7469-7486. ⟨10.1002/2013WR013508⟩. ⟨hal-01108534⟩
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