Local meteoric water lines describe extratropical precipitation


Stable water isotopes δ18O and δ2H are used to investigate precipitation trends and storm dynamics to advance knowledge of precipitation patterns in a warming world. Herein, δ18O and δ2H were used to determine the relationship between extratropical cyclonic precipitation and local meteoric water lines (LMWLs) in the eastern Ohio Valley and the eastern United States. Precipitation volume weighted and unweighted central Ohio LMWLs, created with samples collected during 2012–2018, showed that temperature had the greatest effect on precipitation isotopic composition. HYSPLIT back trajectory modelling showed that precipitation was primarily derived from a mid-continental moisture source. Remnants of major hurricanes were collected as extratropical precipitation during the 2012–2018 sampling period in central Ohio. Extratropical precipitation samples were not significantly different from the samples that created the central Ohio LMWL. Six additional LMWLs were derived from United States Geological Survey (USGS) Atmospheric Integrated Research Monitoring Network (AIRMoN) samples collected in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Tennessee, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Oxford, Ohio. Meteoric water lines describing published samples from Superstorm Sandy, plotted with these AIRMoN LMWLs, showed isotopic composition of Superstorm Sandy precipitation was commonly more depleted than the average isotopic composition at the mid-latitude locations. Meteoric water lines describing the Superstorm Sandy precipitation were not significantly different in slope from LMWLs generated within 300 km of the USGS AIRMoN site. This finding, which was observed across the eastern Ohio Valley and eastern United States, demonstrated a consistent precipitation δ2H–δ18O relationship for extratropical cyclonic and non-cyclonic events. This work also facilitates the analysis of storm development based on the relationship between extratropical event signature and the LMWL. Analysis of extratropical precipitation in relation to LMWLs along storm tracks allows for stronger development of precipitation models and understanding of which climatic and atmospheric factors determine the isotopic composition of precipitation.

Publication Title

Hydrological Processes