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Isotopes Environ Health Stud. 2008 Mar;44(1):61-70. doi: 10.1080/10256010801887208.

Deuterium excess in precipitation of Alpine regions - moisture recycling.

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Viktor-Wittner-Gasse 36/7, Vienna, Austria (IAEA Vienna).


The paper evaluates long-term seasonal variations of the deuterium excess (d-excess = delta(2)H - 8. delta(18)O) in precipitation of stations located north and south of the main ridge of the Austrian Alps. It demonstrates that sub-cloud evaporation during precipitation and continental moisture recycling are local, respectively, regional processes controlling these variations. In general, sub-cloud evaporation decreases and moisture recycling increases the d-excess. Therefore, evaluation of d-excess variations in terms of moisture recycling, the main aim of this paper, includes determination of the effect of sub-cloud evaporation. Since sub-cloud evaporation is governed by saturation deficit and distance between cloud base and the ground, its effect on the d-excess is expected to be lower at mountain than at lowland/valley stations. To determine quantitatively this difference, we examined long-term seasonal d-excess variations measured at three selected mountain and adjoining valley stations. The altitude differences between mountain and valley stations ranged from 470 to 1665 m. Adapting the 'falling water drop' model by Stewart [J. Geophys. Res., 80(9), 1133-1146 (1975).], we estimated that the long-term average of sub-cloud evaporation at the selected mountain stations (altitudes between about 1600 and 2250 m.a.s.l.) is less than 1 % of the precipitation and causes a decrease of the d-excess of less than 2 per thousand. For the selected valley stations, the corresponding evaporated fraction is at maximum 7 % and the difference in d-excess ranges up to 8 per thousand. The estimated d-excess differences have been used to correct the measured long-term d-excess values at the selected stations. Finally, the corresponding fraction of water vapour has been estimated that recycled by evaporation of surface water including soil water from the ground. For the two mountain stations Patscherkofel and Feuerkogel, which are located north of the main ridge of the Alps, the maximum seasonal change of the corrected d-excess (July/August) has been estimated to be between 5 and 6 per thousand, and the corresponding recycled fraction between 2.5-3 % of the local precipitation. It has been found that the estimated recycled fractions are in good agreement with values derived from other approaches.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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