PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2015, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (3): 340-353.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2015.03.009

• Hydrology andWater Resource • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Review on atmospheric water vapor isotopic observation and research: theory, method and modeling

Jingfeng LIU1, Minghu DING1,2,3, Cunde XIAO1,2   

  1. 1. State Key Laboratory of Cryopheric Sciences, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, CAS, Lanhou 730000, China
    2. Institute of Polar Meteorology, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
    3. National Climate Center, Snow-Ice-Aerosol Analyzing Laboratory, Beijing 100037, China
  • Received:2014-09-01 Revised:2015-02-01 Online:2015-03-25 Published:2015-03-25


Stable isotopes of atmospheric water vapor have been used as informational tracer in understanding global earth surface processes and hydrological cycle. Based on the physical process of water transportation, this article introduces the theoretical basis of water vapor isotopic fractionation, including equilibrant and non-equilibrant fractionation such as evaporation process, transportation, and considerations, and reviews traditional measurement methods and new techniques such as laser spectrometer and satellite remote sensing infrared spectrometer. It shows that real-time and remote sensing observations have become useful methods for water vapor isotope research. The paper also summarizes the main progresses on water vapor isotopic theory and the general/regional climate models enabled with isotopic module. Iso-GCM/RCM has advantages in global and regional climate process research and environmental information reconstruction, and will be widely used in future research. Emerging focuses of atmospheric isotope research are high spatiotemporal resolution measurement and application of new indices such as 17O-excess and Iso-GCM/RCM.

Key words: atmospheric water vapor isotope, isotope fractionation, water vapor isotope observation, water cycle