Paired stable isotopologues in precipitation and vapor: A case study of the amount effect within western tropical Pacific storms Public Deposited

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  • Understanding controls on the stable isotopic composition of precipitation and vapor in the West Pacific Warm Pool is vital for accurate representation of convective processes in models and correct interpretation of isotope-based paleoclimate proxies, yet a lack of direct observational evidence precludes the utility of these isotopic tracers. Results from a measurement campaign at Manus Island, Papua New Guinea from 28 April to 8 May 2013 demonstrate variability in the stable isotopic composition (δD and δ18O) of precipitation and vapor in individual precipitation events and over a 10 day period. Isotope ratios in water vapor and precipitation progressively increased throughout the period of measurement, coincident with a transition from high to low regional convective activity. Vapor isotope ratios approached equilibrium with seawater during the quiescent period and likely reflected downwind advection of distilled vapor and re-evaporation of rainfall during the period of regional convection. On a 5 min timescale across individual storms, isotope ratios in precipitation were strongly correlated with isotope ratios in surface vapor. However, individual precipitation isotope ratios were not strongly correlated with surface meteorological data, including precipitation rate, in all storms. Yet across all events, precipitation deuterium excess was negatively correlated with surface temperature, sea level pressure, and cloud base height and positively correlated with precipitation rate and relative humidity. Paired surface precipitation and vapor isotope ratios indicate condensation at boundary layer temperatures. The ratio of these paired values decreased with increasing precipitation rate during some precipitation events, suggesting rain re-evaporation and precipitation in equilibrium with an isotopically distinct upper level moisture source. Results from the short campaign support the interpretation that isotope ratios in precipitation and vapor in the western tropical Pacific are indicators of regional convective intensity at the timescale of days to weeks. However, a nonstationary relationship between rain rate and stable isotope ratios in precipitation during individual convective events suggests that condensation, rain evaporation, moisture recycling, and regional moisture convergence do not always yield an amount effect relationship on intraevent timescales.
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  • Conroy, J. L., Noone, D., Cobb, K. M., Moerman, J. W., & Konecky, B. L. (2016). Paired stable isotopologues in precipitation and vapor: A case study of the amount effect within western tropical Pacific storms. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 121(7), 3290-3303. doi:10.1002/2015JD023844
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  • 121
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  • 7
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  • Funding sources for this work includes NSF-AGS-PF 1049664 to J.L.C., NSF ATM-0645291 to K.M.C., J.L.C., and D.N., as well as NNX08AR23G and 07-NEWS07-0020 to D.N. This research was supported by the Office of Biological and Environment Research of the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility.
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