Water isotopes are the foundation for understanding the H and O isotopic composition of plant and animal tissues, supporting applications in areas such as ecophysiology, biogeochemistry, and migration ecology. Moreover water isotopes can record the impact of humans and the biosphere on the water cycle. The isotopic compositions of environmental waters have been extensively documented through global and national monitoring programs and thousands of published studies and reports. Long-standing theory relates variation of water isotope ratios to water cycle processes. Of primary importance is the transfer of water between liquid or solid and vapor phases during residence within or transport through a system (e.g., the atmosphere, streams, or plant tissues), which preferentially partitions the heavier isotopes 2H and 18O into the liquid and/or solid phases. In recent years, analysis of regional to continental scale datasets for precipitation and surface water isotope ratios using statistical and process-based models has demonstrated the potential to extract useful data on hydrological systems. The extension of this work to probe ecohydrological phenomena and the integration of stable isotope monitoring data with other environmental geodata has been limited, however.
This project will support a postdoc to advance spatial analysis and modeling methods for extracting ecohydrological and hydrological information from spatially distributed monitoring networks and investigate the strengths and limitations of water isotope tracers across a wide range of spatial scales. Strong foundations for this work include published data and formal and informal monitoring networks recording water isotopic composition. In addition, atmospheric water vapor isotope ratio data from satellites and several new networks of ground-based instruments, including new CRDS analyzers deployed by the project and ITCE faculty, are available to support this work.
The work should provide an enhaced basis for using network-based water isotope ratio data in support of ecological, hydrological, or hydroclimatological research. Potential fundamental research questions include:
Bowen, Brooks, Dawson, Kendall, McDonnell, Pataki,Noone
IsoMAP is a dynamic, online workspace for spatial analysis, modeling and prediction of stable isotope ratio variation in the natural environment. The initial realease of the IsoMAP gateway is now live and supports precipitation isotope ratio modeling. Visit IsoMAP to learn more or to start making isoscapes today!