University of Oulu

Akers, P. D., J. M. Welker, and G. A. Brook (2017), Reassessing the role of temperature in precipitation oxygen isotopes across the eastern and central United States through weekly precipitation-day data, Water Resour. Res., 53, 7644–7661,

Reassessing the role of temperature in precipitation oxygen isotopes across the eastern and central United States through weekly precipitation‐day data

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Author: Akers, Pete D.1; Welker, Jeffrey M.2,3; Brook, George A.4
Organizations: 1Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA
2Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, Alaska, USA
3Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland, and University of the Arctic
4Department of Geography, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3.6 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: American Geophysical Union, 2017
Publish Date: 2019-03-20


Air temperature is correlated with precipitation oxygen isotope (δ18Oprcp) variability for much of the eastern and central United States, but the nature of this δ18Oprcp‐temperature relationship is largely based on data coarsely aggregated at a monthly resolution. We constructed a database of 6177 weeks of isotope and precipitation‐day air temperature data from 25 sites to determine how more precise data change our understanding of this classic relationship. Because the δ18Oprcp‐temperature relationship is not perfectly linear, trends in the regression residuals suggest the influence of additional environmental factors such as moisture recycling and extratropical cyclone interactions. Additionally, the temporal relationships between δ18Oprcp and temperature observed in the weekly data at individual sites can explain broader spatial patterns observed across the study region. For 20 of 25 sites, the δ18Oprcp‐temperature relationship slope is higher for colder precipitation than for warmer precipitation. Accordingly, northern and western sites with relatively more cold precipitation events have steeper overall relationships with higher slope values than southeastern sites that have more warm precipitation events. Although the magnitude of δ18Oprcp variability increases to the north and west, the fraction of δ18Oprcp variability explained by temperature increases due to wider annual temperature ranges, producing stronger relationships in these regions. When our δ18Oprcp‐temperature data are grouped by month, we observe significant variations in the relationship from month to month. This argues against a principal causative role for temperature and suggests the existence of an alternative environmental control on δ18Oprcp values that simply covaries seasonally with temperature.

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Series: Water resources research
ISSN: 0043-1397
ISSN-E: 1944-7973
ISSN-L: 0043-1397
Volume: 53
Issue: 9
Pages: 7644 - 7661
DOI: 10.1002/2017WR020569
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This research was funded by National Science Foundation grants BCS‐1433904 (Akers and Brook) and MRI‐0953271 (Welker).
Copyright information: © 2017 American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.