A Global Mass Balance of Isotope Ratios in Hydrologic Fluxes Provides Constraints on Terrestrial and Oceanic Water Cycling

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Stephen P Good1, David C Noone2, Naoyuki Kurita3, Marion Benetti4 and Gabriel J Bowen1, (1)University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, United States, (2)Oregon State University, College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Corvallis, OR, United States, (3)Nagoya University, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya, Japan, (4)IPSL, UPMC, CNRS, Laboratoire d'Océanographie et du Climat, Paris, France
The global budget of isotope ratios in the Earth's water cycle is poorly understood because of large uncertainties in the isotopic composition of continental evapotranspiration. Additional uncertainties exist in the global pattern of marine boundary layer vapor D/H isotope ratios and the magnitude of their influence on oceanic evaporation. Here, we use satellite retrievals of marine boundary layer vapor HDO and H2O from the Tropospheric Emissions Spectrometer (TES) corrected to match surface vapor collected during cruises in the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic Oceans to resolve the global D/H isotope ratio budget. After our correction, satellite retrievals are un-biased, and have an average error of 14 permil when compared with 1341 satellite retrievals that were co-located with surface observations. Using TES retrieval spanning the globe, we calculate the global oceanic evaporation flux isotopic composition as approximately -30 permil, and combined with estimates of precipitation isotope ratios, a global mass balance is applied to quantify terrestrial evapotranspiration and runoff composition. The flux-weighted average isotopic composition of precipitation is estimated at approximately -37 permil, with oceanic precipitation having a value of approximately -32 permil and terrestrial precipitation having a value of approximately -52 permil. Based on our mass balance, terrestrial evapotranspiration has a flux-weighted average composition of -69 permil and terrestrial runoff has an average composition of -16 permil, which corresponds to a terrestrial enrichment of 37 permil for runoff relative to terrestrial precipitation. Knowledge of the entire HDO budget provides constraints on terrestrial evaporation/transpiration partitioning as well as tropospheric entrainment of moisture into the boundary layer, both poorly understood components of the global hydrologic cycle. These calculations provide a critical test of an essential global closure theory upon which many previous studies have been based, and we find that there are significant shortcomings in the historical assumptions made. Our findings have implications for interpreting climate proxies including ice cores and biological deposits of oxygen isotopes as well as understudying contemporary water resource distributions.