Articles | Volume 15, issue 10
Research article
25 Oct 2021
Research article |  | 25 Oct 2021

The role of sublimation as a driver of climate signals in the water isotope content of surface snow: laboratory and field experimental results

Abigail G. Hughes, Sonja Wahl, Tyler R. Jones, Alexandra Zuhr, Maria Hörhold, James W. C. White, and Hans Christian Steen-Larsen

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Cited articles

Benson, L. V. and White, J. W. C.: Stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen in the Truckee River-Pyramid Lake surface-water system, 3. Source of water vapor overlying Pyramid Lake, Limnol. Oceanogr., 39, 1945–1958, 1994. a
Casado, M., Landais, A., Picard, G., Münch, T., Laepple, T., Stenni, B., Dreossi, G., Ekaykin, A., Arnaud, L., Genthon, C., Touzeau, A., Masson-Delmotte, V., and Jouzel, J.: Archival processes of the water stable isotope signal in East Antarctic ice cores, The Cryosphere, 12, 1745–1766,, 2018. a, b, c, d, e
Casado, M., Münch, T., and Laepple, T.: Climatic information archived in ice cores: impact of intermittency and diffusion on the recorded isotopic signal in Antarctica, Clim. Past, 16, 1581–1598,, 2020. a
Craig, H.: Isotopic variations in meteoric waters, Science, 133, 1702–1703,, 1961. a
Cuffey, K. M. and Steig, E. J.: Isotopic diffusion in polar firn: implications for interpretation of seasonal climate parameters in ice-core records, with emphasis on central Greenland, J. Glaciol., 44, 273–284, 1998. a
Short summary
Water isotope records in Greenland and Antarctic ice cores are a valuable proxy for paleoclimate reconstruction and are traditionally thought to primarily reflect precipitation input. However, post-depositional processes are hypothesized to contribute to the isotope climate signal. In this study we use laboratory experiments, field experiments, and modeling to show that sublimation and vapor–snow isotope exchange can rapidly influence the isotopic composition of the snowpack.