Measurements of water vapor D/H ratios from Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and implications for subtropical humidity dynamics

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Abstract

[1] Water vapor D/H ratios were measured from samples collected on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, in July 2006, and provide new constraints on the processes that control subtropical humidity. D/H ratios ranged from −88‰ at sea level to −321‰ on the summit of Mauna Kea, with sharply decreased D/H ratios above the trade inversion. A simple Rayleigh distillation model underpredicts the observed clear-sky D/H ratios by as much as 160‰ at the summit. A model that accounts for large-scale condensation, fractionation, mixing, and transport of water vapor, but ignores more detailed microphysical processes, is able to reproduce the first-order characteristics of the clear-sky free troposphere relative humidity and D/H ratios. These results are consistent with remote sensing studies of subtropical D/H ratios and suggest that subtropical clear-sky water vapor isotopologues may be relatively insensitive to microphysical processes.

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