Abrupt excursions in water vapor isotopic variability at the Pointe Benedicte observatory on Amsterdam Island

martin.werner [ at ] awi.de


In order to complement the picture of the atmospheric water cycle in the Southern Ocean, we have continuously monitored water vapor isotopes since January 2020 on Amsterdam Island in the Indian Ocean. We present here the first 2-year long water vapor isotopic record at this site. We show that the water vapor isotopic composition largely follows the water vapor mixing ratio, as expected in marine boundary layers. However, we detect 11 periods of a few days where there is a strong loss of correlation between water vapor δ18O and water vapor mixing ratio as well as abrupt negative excursions of water vapor δ18O. These excursions often occur toward the end of precipitation events. Six of these events show a decrease in gaseous elemental mercury, suggesting subsidence of air from a higher altitude. Our study aims to further explore the mechanism driving these negative excursions in water vapor δ18O. We used two different models to provide a data–model comparison over this 2-year period. While the European Centre Hamburg model (ECHAM6-wiso) at 0.9° was able to reproduce most of the sharp negative water vapor δ18O excursions, hence validating the physics process and isotopic implementation in this model, the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique Zoom model (LMDZ-iso) at 2° (3°) resolution was only able to reproduce seven (one) of the negative excursions, highlighting the possible influence of the model resolution for the study of such abrupt isotopic events. Based on our detailed model–data comparison, we conclude that the most plausible explanations for such isotopic excursions are rain–vapor interactions associated with subsidence at the rear of a precipitation event.

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Published online
Eprint ID
DOI 10.5194/acp-24-4611-2024

Cite as
Landais, A. , Agosta, C. , Vimeux, F. , Magand, O. , Solis, C. , Cauquoin, A. , Dutrievoz, N. , Risi, C. , Santos, C. L. D. , Fourré, E. , Cattani, O. , Jossoud, O. , Minster, B. , Prié, F. , Casado, M. , Dommergue, A. , Bertrand, Y. and Werner, M. (2024): Abrupt excursions in water vapor isotopic variability at the Pointe Benedicte observatory on Amsterdam Island , Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 24 (8), pp. 4611-4634 . doi: 10.5194/acp-24-4611-2024

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