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Hydrometeorological Processes and Moisture Sources in the Northeastern Tibetan Plateau: Insights from a 7-Yr Study on Precipitation Isotopes

Huawu WuaKey Laboratory of Watershed Geographic Sciences, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing, China
bState Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

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Cicheng ZhangcCollege of Resources and Environmental Science, Hunan Normal University, Changsha, China

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Xiao-Yan LibState Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

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Congsheng FuaKey Laboratory of Watershed Geographic Sciences, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing, China

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Haohao WuaKey Laboratory of Watershed Geographic Sciences, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing, China

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Pei WangbState Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

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Jinzhao LiudState Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi’an, China

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Abstract

The northeastern Tibetan Plateau is located in a climatic junction, which is considered an ideal region to explore the interactions between the summer monsoons and the westerly circulation patterns. However, to date, the needed long-term precipitation-based isotopic dataset is too limited to predict the interactions and patterns. This paper presents an evaluation of hydrometeorological processes and climate dynamics in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau based on a 7-yr precipitation isotope dataset covering the summer monsoon periods from 2012 to 2018. Results illustrated remarkable seasonal isotopic variability, characterized by lower δ18O and δ2H values in June with an average of −10‰ and −66.7‰, respectively. Higher δ18O and δ2H values in July averaged −6.7‰ and −39.5‰, respectively. This clear isotopic variability is largely related to seasonal changes of moisture sources and hydrometeorological processes. These precipitation isotopic values were primarily determined by the amount of precipitation, relative humidity, and convective activity, but showed no correlation with air temperature. Backward trajectory model results showed that Xinjiang, northern China, the Arctic, central Asia, and the South China Sea (SCS) were the primary sources of precipitation for the study site with varying seasonal contributions. The maritime moisture source of the SCS primarily resulted in the lowest precipitation δ18O values during the prevailing summer monsoon, which is mainly as a result of the strong convective activity and rainout processes along the air trajectory. The higher average deuterium excess (d-excess) value of precipitation in September indicated continental sources from central Asia (e.g., 75.4%) as land vapor recycling increases d-excess concentration in the atmosphere. These findings provide further insights into the main factors of precipitation isotopic variability related to atmospheric processes along the trajectory and the relevant factors in the monsoon regions.

Significance Statement

Recently, scientists and policy makers have become aware that Tibetan hydroclimate variability provides evidence of changes in regional and global circulation patterns that may result in the intensification of climate-driven extremes. However, these studies largely depend on crucial paleoclimate records of past precipitation isotopes in monsoon regions, which contain great uncertainties because of the complex relationship between climatic variability and precipitation isotopes. This study first presented a 7-yr isotopic dataset to understand the hydrological processes and climate dynamics controlling the isotopic variability in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau. The findings reveal important factors on the isotopic variability associated with atmospheric processes and their key climatic variables, which can enhance our interpretation of the paleoclimate records in monsoon regions.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding authors: Huawu Wu, wuhuawu416@163.com; Congsheng Fu, csfu@niglas.ac.cn

Abstract

The northeastern Tibetan Plateau is located in a climatic junction, which is considered an ideal region to explore the interactions between the summer monsoons and the westerly circulation patterns. However, to date, the needed long-term precipitation-based isotopic dataset is too limited to predict the interactions and patterns. This paper presents an evaluation of hydrometeorological processes and climate dynamics in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau based on a 7-yr precipitation isotope dataset covering the summer monsoon periods from 2012 to 2018. Results illustrated remarkable seasonal isotopic variability, characterized by lower δ18O and δ2H values in June with an average of −10‰ and −66.7‰, respectively. Higher δ18O and δ2H values in July averaged −6.7‰ and −39.5‰, respectively. This clear isotopic variability is largely related to seasonal changes of moisture sources and hydrometeorological processes. These precipitation isotopic values were primarily determined by the amount of precipitation, relative humidity, and convective activity, but showed no correlation with air temperature. Backward trajectory model results showed that Xinjiang, northern China, the Arctic, central Asia, and the South China Sea (SCS) were the primary sources of precipitation for the study site with varying seasonal contributions. The maritime moisture source of the SCS primarily resulted in the lowest precipitation δ18O values during the prevailing summer monsoon, which is mainly as a result of the strong convective activity and rainout processes along the air trajectory. The higher average deuterium excess (d-excess) value of precipitation in September indicated continental sources from central Asia (e.g., 75.4%) as land vapor recycling increases d-excess concentration in the atmosphere. These findings provide further insights into the main factors of precipitation isotopic variability related to atmospheric processes along the trajectory and the relevant factors in the monsoon regions.

Significance Statement

Recently, scientists and policy makers have become aware that Tibetan hydroclimate variability provides evidence of changes in regional and global circulation patterns that may result in the intensification of climate-driven extremes. However, these studies largely depend on crucial paleoclimate records of past precipitation isotopes in monsoon regions, which contain great uncertainties because of the complex relationship between climatic variability and precipitation isotopes. This study first presented a 7-yr isotopic dataset to understand the hydrological processes and climate dynamics controlling the isotopic variability in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau. The findings reveal important factors on the isotopic variability associated with atmospheric processes and their key climatic variables, which can enhance our interpretation of the paleoclimate records in monsoon regions.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding authors: Huawu Wu, wuhuawu416@163.com; Congsheng Fu, csfu@niglas.ac.cn

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