Stable water isotopes in the ECHAM5 general circulation model: Toward high-resolution isotope modeling on a global scale



[1] In this study, a first set of four present-day global experiments with the ECHAM5 atmospheric general circulation model enhanced by stable water isotope diagnostics (ECHAM5-wiso) is presented. Model resolution varies from a typical coarse horizontal grid of 3.8° × 3.8° (T31) to a fine grid of 0.75° × 0.75° (T159). Vertical resolution varies from 19 to 31 model levels. On a global scale, the ECHAM5-wiso simulation results are in good agreement with available observations of the isotopic composition of precipitation from the Global Network of Isotopes in Precipitation (GNIP), on an annual as well as a seasonal time scale. In many instances, the isotope simulation results clearly benefit from an increased horizontal and vertical model resolution. The exemplary relevance of this model resolution dependence is demonstrated for the simulation of the isotopic composition of Antarctic precipitation. Here, the simulation with the fine T159L31 model resolution not only yields a better agreement with observational data sets but also allows for a more realistic retuning of the supersaturation function leading to improved deuterium excess performance over the Antarctic continent, which is important for the interpretation of polar ice cores. Finally, the ECHAM5-wiso simulation results are compared to newly available measurements of the isotopic composition of atmospheric water vapor. Model and data agree well, with differences in the range of ±10‰ for near-surface atmospheric values at several GNIP stations. A comparison of the ECHAM5-wiso simulations with total column averaged HDO data from the Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Cartography (SCIAMACHY) instrument on board the environmental satellite Envisat shows the same latitudinal gradients but an offset between 20‰ and 50‰ of unknown origin.