Spatial and temporal variations of stable isotopes in precipitation in midlatitude coastal regions

Xiaoyang Li, Atsuko Sugimoto, Akihiro Ueta

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Spatial and temporal variations of the isotopic composition of precipitation were investigated to better understand their controlling factors. Precipitation was collected from six locations in Hokkaido, Japan, and event-based analyses were conducted for a period from March 2010 to February 2013. Relatively low δ values and a high d-excess for annual averages were observed at three sites located along the Japan Sea compared to the three sites at Pacific Ocean side. Lower δ values in spring and fall and higher d-excess in winter were observed for the region along the Japan Sea. In total, 264 precipitation events were identified. Precipitation originated predominantly from low-pressure system (LPS) events, which were classified as northwest (LPS-NW) and southeast (LPS-SE) events according to the routes of the low-pressure center, that passed northwest and southeast of Hokkaido, respectively. LPS-SE events showed lower δ18O than LPS-NW events, which is attributable to the lower δ18O of water vapor resulting from heavy rainfalls in the upstream region of the LPS air mass trajectories over the Pacific Ocean. This phenomenon observed in Hokkaido can be found in other midlatitude coastal regions and applied for hydrological, atmospheric, and paleoclimate studies. A characteristic spatial pattern was found in LPS-NW events, in which lower δ18O was observed on the Japan Sea side than on the Pacific Ocean side in each season. This is likely due to the location of the sampling sites and their distance from the LPS: Precipitation with lower δ18O in the region along the Japan Sea occurs in a well-developed cloud system near the low-pressure center in cold and warm sectors of LPS, whereas precipitation with higher δ18O on the Pacific side mainly occurs in a warm sector away from the low-pressure center. Air mass from the north does not always cause low δ in precipitation, and the precipitation process in the upstream region is another important factor controlling the isotopic composition of precipitation, other than the local temperature and precipitation amount.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3029-3044
Number of pages16
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Aug 15 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


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