Seasonal and ENSO Influences on the Stable Isotopic Composition of Galápagos Precipitation
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Seasonal and ENSO Influences on the Stable Isotopic Composition of Galápagos Precipitation

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    The origin of stable isotopic variability in precipitation over time and space is critical to the interpretation of stable isotope‐based paleoclimate proxies. In the eastern equatorial Pacific, modern stable isotope measurements in precipitation (δ18Op and δDp) are sparse and largely unevaluated in the literature, although insights from such analyses would benefit the interpretations of several regional isotope‐based paleoclimate records. Here we present a new 3.5 year record of daily‐resolved δ18Op and δDp from Santa Cruz, Galápagos. With a prior 13 year record of monthly δ18Op and δDp from the island, these new data reveal controls on the stable isotopic composition of regional precipitation on event to interannual time scales. Overall, we find Galápagos δ18Op is significantly correlated with precipitation amount on daily and monthly time scales. The majority of Galápagos rain events are drizzle, or garúa, derived from local marine boundary layer vapor, with corresponding high δ18Op values due to the local source and increased evaporation and equilibration of smaller drops with boundary layer vapor. On monthly time scales, only precipitation in very strong, warm season El Niño months has substantially lower δ18Op values, as the sea surface temperature threshold for deep convection (28°C) is only surpassed at these times. The 2015/2016 El Niño event did not produce strong precipitation or δ18Op anomalies due to the short period of warm SST anomalies, which did not extend into the peak of the warm season. Eastern Pacific proxy isotope records may be biased toward periods of high rainfall during strong to very strong El Niño events.
  • Source:
    JGR Atmospheres 123(1):261-275, 2018
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