Oxygen isotope anomaly observed in water vapor from Alert, Canada and the implication for the stratosphere

Ying Lin, Robert N. Clayton, Lin Huang, Noboru Nakamura, James Lyons

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19 Scopus citations


To identify the possible anomalous oxygen isotope signature in stratospheric water predicted by model studies, 25 water vapor samples were collected in 2003-2005 at Alert station, Canada (82° 30'N), where there is downward transport of stratospheric air to the polar troposphere, and were analyzed for Δ17O and Δ18O relative to Chicago local precipitation (CLP). The latter was chosen as a reference because the relatively large evaporative moisture source should erase any possible oxygen isotope anomaly from the stratosphere. A mass-dependent fractionation coefficient for meteoric waters, λMDF(H2O) = 0.529 ± 0.003 [2σ standard error (SE)], was determined from27 CLP samples collected in 2003-2005. An oxygen isotopic anomaly of Δ17O = 76 ± 16 ppm (2σ SE) was found in water vapor samples from Alert relative to CLP. We propose that the positive oxygen isotope anomalies observed at Alert originated from stratospheric ozone, were transferred to water in the stratosphere, and subsequently mixed with tropospheric water at high latitudes as the stratospheric air descended into the troposphere. On the basis of this ground signal, the average Δ17O in stratospheric water vapor predicted by a steady-state box model is ∼40%. Seven ice core samples (1930-1991) from Dasuopu glacier (Himalayas, China) and Standard Light Antarctic Precipitation did not show an obvious oxygen isotope anomaly, and Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water exhibited a negative Δ17O relative to CLP. Six Alert snow samples collected in March 2011 and measured at Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, Gif sur Yvette, France, had 17Oexcess of 45 ± 5 ppm (2σ SE) relative to Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15608-15613
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number39
StatePublished - Sep 24 2013


  • Non-mass-dependent (NMD) fractionation
  • Stratosphere-troposphere transport (STT)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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