Observation and modeling of stable water isotopes as diagnostics of rainfall dynamics over southeastern Australia

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Abstract

[1] A unified approach of observation and modeling was applied to the investigation of three circulation types that typically bring rain to southeastern Australia. Observations from the Melbourne University Network of Isotopes in Precipitation of high-resolution variations in the ratios of 18O and 2H were collected for (1) mixed frontal, (2) convective, and (3) stratiform precipitation events. Isotopic content of precipitation varied over both high and low frequencies because of influences from local variations in rain intensity and rainout by large-scale precipitation. Deuterium excess showed a weak relationship with rainfall amount on intraevent time scales but was stronger under convective rainfall conditions. As a supplement to the observations, a version of the National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Atmosphere Model running an isotope hydrology scheme simulated the mixed frontal and stratiform events by nudging with reanalyses. The simulations represented well the evolution of vapor profiles of 18O and deuterium excess. Trajectories for the mixed frontal case illustrated the structure of the vapor profiles, revealing a convergence of air masses from different source regions. Deuterium excess in precipitation was represented less accurately by the model, indicating a possible shortcoming in the parameterization of postcondensation processes in the general circulation model. By combining observations and modeling in this way, detail of the structure and history of the events was provided that would be unavailable from the sampling of precipitation alone.

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