Changes in precipitation isotope-climate relationships from temporal grouping and aggregation of weekly-resolved USNIP data: impacts on paleoclimate and environmental applications

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Pete Douglas Akers, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, United States
Spatial variations in precipitation isotopes have been the focus of much recent research, but relatively less work has explored changes at various temporal scales. This is partly because most spatially-diverse and long-term isotope databases are offered at a monthly resolution, while daily or event-level records are spatially and temporally limited by cost and logistics. A subset of 25 United States Network for Isotopes in Precipitation (USNIP) sites with weekly-resolution in the east-central United States was analyzed for site-specific relationships between δ18O and δD (the local meteoric water line/LMWL), δ18O and surface temperature, and δ18O and precipitation amount. Weekly data were then aggregated into monthly and seasonal data to examine the effect of aggregation on correlation and slope values for each of the relationships. Generally, increasing aggregation improved correlations (>25% for some sites) due to a reduced effect of extreme values, but estimates on regression variable error increased (>100%) because of reduced sample sizes. Aggregation resulted in small, but significant drops (5-25%) in relationship slope values for some sites. Weekly data were also grouped by month and season to explore changes in relationships throughout the year. Significant subannual variability exists in slope values and correlations even for sites with very strong overall correlations. LMWL slopes are highest in winter and lowest in summer, while the δ18O-surface temperature relationship is strongest in spring. Despite these overall trends, a high level of month-to-month and season-to-season variability is the norm for these sites. Researchers blindly applying overall relationships drawn from monthly-resolved databases to paleoclimate or environmental research risk assuming these relationships apply at all temporal resolutions. When possible, researchers should match the temporal resolution used to calculate an isotopic relationship with the temporal resolution of their applied proxy.