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Moisture origin and characteristics of the isotopic signature of rainfall in a Mediterranean mountain catchment (Vallcebre, eastern Pyrenees)

Casellas, Enric, Latron, Jérôme, Cayuela, Carles, Bech, Joan, Udina, Mireia, Sola, Yolanda, Lee, Keun-Ok, Llorens, Pilar
Journal of hydrology 2019
air temperature, algorithms, basins, oxygen, rain, seawater, stable isotopes, summer, watersheds, winter, Mediterranean region, Spain
This study investigates moisture origin, characteristics and intra-event scale variability of the isotopic signature of rainfall in a Mediterranean mountain area, based on data from the Vallcebre Research Catchments, NE Spain. Weekly data and samples were used to analyse the general dynamics of the isotopic composition of precipitation and its relationship with meteorological variables at the sampling site. Then, based on the data and samples available at the intra-event scale, the variability of the isotopic signature during rainfall events was characterised and an explanation of what caused the observed variability was attempted. Results at the weekly time scale show that the maximum relative deviation of the heavy isotopic content with respect to Standard Mean Ocean Water (δ18O) of the precipitation signature occurred during summer months and, in contrast, the minimum during winter months. The intra-annual trend of rainfall δ18O roughly followed the mean monthly air temperature. Using intra-event information, three main types of δ18O isotopic trends were found during rainfall events: most of the events had a V-shaped isotopic trend, followed by L-shaped and constant trend events. Changes in moisture sources ’diagnosed using a Lagrangian approach and a previously existing contribution algorithm’ were one of the causes of the isotopic variability and changes at the intra-event scale, but these may also have been influenced by sub-cloud processes that modified the isotopic signature. Moisture sources for analysed events showed the main influence of the Mediterranean area, but also an important influence of the Atlantic Basin.