Processes affecting isotopes in precipitation of an arid region

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Pang, Zhonghe ; Kong, Yanlong ; Froehlich, Klaus ; Huang, Tianming ; Yuan, Lijuan ; Li, Zhongqin ; Wang, Feiteng (2011)

The isotopic composition of precipitation has been measured in samples simultaneously collected during individual precipitation events at two neighbouring high-altitude stations (Houxia at 2100 m a.s.l. and Gaoshan at 3545 m a.s.l.) in the Tianshan Mts., northwest China. The observed changes of δ18O (δ2H) and deuterium excess with surface air temperature, altitude and season have been evaluated to derive information on the effects of subcloud evaporation and moisture recycling on the formation of precipitation and its isotopic composition under arid climatic conditions. Consulting the long-term monthly averages of ‘d’ excess and temperature of the nearest GNIP station Wulumuqi, a striking similarity was found with the results of the two high-altitude stations concerning the relation between ‘d’ excess and temperature. The ‘d’ excess–temperature plot of the Wulumuqi data shows an hysteresis effect which appears to signify seasonal changes in the interplay between subcloud evaporation and moisture recycling. Finally, for the first time a negative altitude gradient of the d excess has been found for all stations including two more GNIP stations in northwest China but far away from the study area. This ‘inverse altitude effect’ may manifest a decrease of the recycled fraction in air moisture with altitude.DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0889.2011.00532.x
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