Oxygen and hydrogen isotopes in winter precipitation and their relationship with regional meteorological conditions and storm type in Central New York State.

Authors: Adam Burnett*, Colgate University, Justin J. Hartnett, State University of New York, Oneonta, Arthur Samel, Bowling Green State University, Christopher Karmosky, State University of New York, Oneonta
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Cryosphere, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: Precipitation Isotopes, Lake-Effect Snow, Great Lakes, North American Regional Reanalysis
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 51
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The isotopic composition of rain and snow represents an important tool in understanding the hydrologic history of the precipitation. As water undergoes evaporation and condensation, isotopic fractionation occurs, thereby determining the ratio of light and heavy isotopes in condensed water and the remaining vapor. Fractionation is influenced by several processes, including temperature, water vapor source, the altitude of condensation, and the degree to which the precipitating air mass has undergone vapor removal. Because these processes are linked to geography and air flow, precipitation isotopes are used to study atmospheric circulation and vapor advection into storm systems. In the Great Lakes region on the United States, winter storms with vapor advection from the Gulf of Mexico produce isotopically enriched (heavy) precipitation whereas snow derived from evaporated Great Lake water yields depleted (light) precipitation. Therefore, isotopic ratios provide a way to distinguish lake snow from synoptically derived snow. This study uses a record of daily precipitation isotopes collected near Syracuse, NY for the winter period 2017-2021 to explore the relationship between snowfall of different origins and the meteorological conditions over the nearby Great Lakes. We are most interested in the relationship between isotope ratios and surface-850mb lapse rate, CAPE, vertical velocity, boundary layer height, and 1000mb specific humidity (as recorded in the North American Regional Reanalysis). Ultimately, we hope to establish clear patterns connecting these variables to snowfall of different origins and isotopic composition. Furthermore, we seek to distinguish pure lake-effect events from those of mixed origins or lake enhanced synoptic snowfall.

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