Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
29 Mar 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
What controls the stable isotope composition of precipitation in the Asian monsoon region?
Le Duy Nguyen1,2, Ingo Heidbüchel1, Hanno Meyer3, Bruno Merz1,4, and Heiko Apel1 1GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section 5.4 – Hydrology, Potsdam, Germany
2SIWRR Southern Institute of Water Resources Research, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
3Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Research Unit Potsdam, Germany
4University Potsdam, Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, Germany
Abstract. This study analyzes the influence of local and regional climatic factors on the stable isotopic composition of rainfall in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta as part of the Asian monsoon region. It is based on 1.5 years of weekly rainfall samples. Their isotopic content is analyzed by Local Meteoric Water Lines (LMWL) and single-factor regressions. Additionally, the contribution of several regional and local factors is quantified by multiple linear regressions (MLR) of all possible factor combinations and by relative importance analysis, a novel approach for the interpretation of isotopic records. The local factors are extracted from local climate records, while the regional factors are derived from atmospheric backward trajectories of water particles. The regional factors, i.e. precipitation, temperature, relative humidity and moving distance of the backward trajectories, are combined with equivalent local climatic parameters to predict the response variables δ18O, δ2H, and d-excess of precipitation at the station of measurement.

The results indicate that (i) MLR can much better explain the isotopic variation of precipitation (R2 = 0.8) compared to single-factor linear regression (R2 = 0.3); (ii) the isotopic variation in precipitation is controlled dominantly by regional moisture regimes (~ 70 %) compared to local climatic conditions (~ 30 %); (iii) the most important climatic parameter during the early rainy season is the precipitation amount along the trajectories of air mass movements; (iv) the influence of local precipitation amount and temperature is not significant during the early rainy season, unlike the regional precipitation amount effect; (v) secondary fractionation processes (e.g. sub-cloud evaporation) take place mainly in the dry season, either locally for δ18O and δ2H, or along the air mass trajectories for d-excess. The analysis shows that regional and local factors vary in importance over the seasons, and that the source regions and transport pathways, and in particular the climatic conditions along the pathways, have a large influence on the isotopic composition of rainfall. The proposed methods thus proved to be valuable for the interpretation of the isotopic records in rainfall and the factors controlling it.

The results illustrate that the interpretation of the isotopic composition in precipitation as a recorder of local climatic conditions, as for example performed for paleo records of water isotopes, may not be adequate in the Southern part of the Indochinese Peninsula, and likely also not in other regions affected by monsoon processes. However, the presented approach could open a pathway towards better and seasonally differentiated reconstruction of paleoclimates based on isotopic records.

Citation: Nguyen, L. D., Heidbüchel, I., Meyer, H., Merz, B., and Apel, H.: What controls the stable isotope composition of precipitation in the Asian monsoon region?, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2017-164, in review, 2017.
Le Duy Nguyen et al.
Le Duy Nguyen et al.
Le Duy Nguyen et al.


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