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The snow isotopic composition (δ18O and δD) of two shallow cores from the high accumulation summit region of Law Dome, east Antarctica, was measured at monthly resolution over the 1980–1992 period. While the δ18O or δD signals clearly reflect the local temperature cycle, the deuterium excess (d = δD - 8δ18O) is shifted with respect to δ18O cycle by a 4 months lag. Interpretation of this phase lag is investigated using both an Atmospheric General Circulation Model (AGCM), which includes the water isotopic cycles, and a simple isotopic model, which better describes the microphysical processes within the cloud. Using this dual approach, we show that the seasonality of δ18O and d at Law Dome summit results from a combination of the southern ocean temperature cycle (shifted by 2–3 months with respect to the local insolation) and seasonal moisture origin changes due to a strong contribution of the local ocean when ice free. Both approaches are consistent with a dominant temperate to subtropical moisture origin. We thus demonstrate from our present-day subseasonal study that the record of d in the Dome Summit South (DSS) deep ice core represents a potential tool for identifying changes in Southern Ocean temperatures and/or sea ice cover at the scale of the past thousand years.