Seasonal and spatial variations of 17Oexcess and dexcess in Antarctic precipitation: Insights from an intermediate complexity isotope model
An intermediate complexity model (ICM) is used to investigate the sensitivity of water isotope ratios in precipitation, including 17Oexcess, to climate variations in the Southern Hemisphere. The ICM is forced with boundary conditions from seasonal National Centers for Environmental Prediction/Department of Energy II reanalysis data. Perturbations to the surface temperature and humidity fields are used to investigate the isotopic sensitivity. The response of 17Oexcess to a uniform temperature change is insignificant over the ocean, while there is a large magnitude response over the ice sheet, particularly in East Antarctica. A decrease of ocean surface relative humidity produces increased 17Oexcess and dexcess, with a coherent response over both the ocean and Antarctica. For interior East Antarctica, the model simulates a seasonal cycle in 17Oexcess that is positively correlated with δ18O and of large magnitude ( 50 per meg), consistent with the observations from Vostok. The seasonal cycle in 17Oexcess for interior West Antarctica is predicted to be considerably smaller in magnitude (12 per meg), and is negatively correlated with δ18O, consistent with new data from a firn core near the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide site. Over the ocean, the ICM predicts much smaller seasonal cycles in 17Oexcess. Oceanic source changes (i.e., humidity) are insufficient to explain the amplitude of the simulated seasonal cycle over the Antarctic continent. Spatial differences in the seasonal response of 17Oexcess to local temperature reflect the balance of equilibrium and kinetic fractionation during snow formation.