Comparing Stable Water Isotope Variation in Atmospheric Moisture Observed over Coastal Water and Forests

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Chun-Ta Lai1, Joshua P Rambo1, Lisa R Welp2, Kenneth Bible3 and David Y Hollinger4, (1)San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, United States, (2)Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA, United States, (3)University of Washington, Seattle, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences College of the Environment, Seattle, WA, United States, (4)University of New Hampshire Main Campus, Durham, NH, United States
Stable oxygen (δ18O) and hydrogen (δD) isotopologues of atmospheric moisture are strongly influenced by large-scale synoptic weather cycles, surface evapotranspiration and boundary layer mixing. Atmospheric water isotope variation has been shown to empirically relate to relative humidity (Rh) of near surface moisture, and to a less degree, air temperature. Continuous δ18O and δD measurements are becoming more available, providing new opportunities to investigate processes that control isotope variability. This study shows the comparison of δ18O and δD measured at a continental location and over coastal waters for 3 seasons (spring to fall, 2014). The surface moisture isotope measurements were made using two LGR spectroscopy water vapor isotope analyzers (Los Gatos Research Inc.), one operated in an old-growth coniferous forest at Wind River field station, WA (45.8205°N, 121.9519°W), and another sampling marine air over seawater at the Scripps Pier in San Diego, CA (32.8654°N, 117.2536°W), USA. Isotope variations were measured at 1Hz and data were reported as hourly averages with an overall accuracy of ±0.1‰ for δ18O, ±0.5‰ for δ2H. Day-to-day variations in δ18O and δD are shown strongly influenced by synoptic weather events at both locations. Boundary layer mixing between surface moisture and the dry air entrained from the free troposphere exerts a midday maximum and a consistent diel pattern in deuterium excess (dx). At the forest site, surface moisture also interacts with leaf water through transpiration during the day and re-equilibration at night. The latter occurs by retro-diffusion of atmospheric H2O molecules into leaf intercellular space, which becomes intensified as Rh increaes after nightfall, and continues until sunrise, to counter-balance the evaporative isotopic enrichment in leaf water on a daily basis. These vegetation effects lead to negative dx values consistently observed at nighttime in this continental location that were not seen in marine air. This study shows strong evidence suggesting the utility of applying these isotope tracers and, provides data to quantify atmospheric moisture variability in land surface models.