Modeling insights into deuterium excess as an indicator of water vapor source conditions
Article first published online: 17 JAN 2013
©2012. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Volume 118, Issue 2, pages 243–262, 27 January 2013
How to Cite
2013), Modeling insights into deuterium excess as an indicator of water vapor source conditions, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 118, 243–262, doi:10.1029/2012JD017804., , , and (
- Issue published online: 1 MAR 2013
- Article first published online: 17 JAN 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 26 OCT 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 25 OCT 2012
- Manuscript Received: 20 MAR 2012
- deuterium excess;
- ice cores;
- isotopic modeling
 Deuterium excess (d) is interpreted in conventional paleoclimate reconstructions as a tracer of oceanic source region conditions, such as temperature, where precipitation originates. Previous studies have adopted coisotopic approaches (using both δ18O and d) to estimate past changes in both site and oceanic source temperatures for ice core sites using empirical relationships derived from conceptual distillation models, particularly Mixed Cloud Isotopic Models (MCIMs). However, the relationship between d and oceanic surface conditions remains unclear in past contexts. We investigate this climate-isotope relationship for sites in Greenland and Antarctica using multiple simulations of the water isotope-enabled Goddard Institute for Space Studies ModelE-R general circulation model and apply a novel suite of model vapor source distribution (VSD) tracers to assess d as a proxy for source temperature variability under a range of climatic conditions. Simulated average source temperatures determined by the VSDs are compared to synthetic source temperature estimates calculated using MCIM equations linking d to source region conditions. We show that although deuterium excess is generally a faithful tracer of source temperatures as estimated by the MCIM approach, large discrepancies in the isotope-climate relationship occur around Greenland during the Last Glacial Maximum simulation, when precipitation seasonality and moisture source regions were notably different from the present. This identified sensitivity in d as a source temperature proxy suggests that quantitative climate reconstructions from deuterium excess should be treated with caution for some sites when boundary conditions are significantly different from the present day. Also, the exclusion of the influence of humidity and other evaporative source changes in MCIM regressions may be a limitation of quantifying source temperature fluctuations from deuterium excess in some instances.