Extreme short-term stable isotope variability revealed by continuous rainwater analysis

Niels Munksgaard, Christopher Wurster, Adrian Bass, Michael Bird

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The continuous real-time analysis, at 30-s intervals, of precipitation at an Australian tropical location revealed extreme and rapidly changing δ18O and δD values related to variations in moisture source areas, transport paths and precipitation histories. The range of δ18O (−19.6‰ to +2.6‰) and δD (−140‰ to +13‰) values from 5948 measurements of nine rain events over 15 days during an 8-month period at a single location was comparable with the range measured in 1532 monthly samples from all seven Australian Global Network of Isotopes in Precipitation stations from 1962 to 2002. Extreme variations in δ18O (−8.7‰ to −19.6‰) and δD (−54‰ to −140‰) were recorded within a single 4-h period.

    Real-time stable isotope monitoring of precipitation at a high temporal resolution enables new and powerful tracer applications in climatology, hydrology, ecophysiology and palaeoclimatology. 

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3630-3634
    Number of pages5
    JournalHydrological Processes
    Issue number23
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2012


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