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Journal Article

The Forest Effects on the Isotopic Composition of Rainfall in the Northwestern Amazon Basin


Vonhof,  H. B.
Climate Geochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Ampuero, A., Strikis, N. M., Apaestegui, J., Vuille, M., Novello, V. F., Espinoza, J. C., et al. (2020). The Forest Effects on the Isotopic Composition of Rainfall in the Northwestern Amazon Basin. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 125(4): e2019JD031445. doi:10.1029/2019JD031445.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-4B75-2
In the Amazon basin, intense precipitation recycling across the forest significantly modifies the isotopic composition of rainfall (δ18O, δD). In the tropical hydrologic cycle, such an effect can be identified through deuterium excess (dxs), yet it remains unclear what environmental factors control dxs, increasing the uncertainty of dxs‐based paleoclimate reconstructions. Here we present a 4‐year record of the isotopic composition of rainfall, monitored in the northwestern Amazon basin. We analyze the isotopic variations as a function of the air mass history, based on atmospheric back trajectory analyses, satellite observations of precipitation upstream, leaf area index, and simulated moisture recycling along the transport pathway. We show that the precipitation recycling in the forest exerts a significant control on the isotopic composition of precipitation in the northwestern Amazon basin, especially on dxs during the dry season (r = 0.71). Applying these observations to existing speleothem and pollen paleorecords, we conclude that winter precipitation increased after the mid‐Holocene, as the expansion of the forest allowed for more moisture recycling. Therefore, forest effects should be considered when interpreting paleorecords of past precipitation changes.