The triple oxygen isotopes (16O,17O, and18O) are very useful in hydrological and climatological studies because of their sensitivity to environmental conditions. This review presents an overview of the published literature on the potential applications of17O in hydrological studies. Dual-inlet isotope ratio mass spectrometry and laser absorption spectroscopy have been used to measure17O, which provides information on atmospheric conditions at the moisture source and isotopic fractionations during transport and deposition processes. The variations of δ17O from the developed global meteoric water line, with a slope of 0.528, indicate the importance of regional or local effects on the17O distribution. In polar regions, factors such as the supersaturation effect, intrusion of stratospheric vapor, post-depositional processes (local moisture recycling through sublimation), regional circulation patterns, sea ice concentration and local meteorological conditions determine the distribution of17O-excess. Numerous studies have used these isotopes to detect the changes in the moisture source, mixing of different water vapor, evaporative loss in dry regions, re-evaporation of rain drops during warm precipitation and convective storms in low and mid-latitude waters. Owing to the large variation of the spatial scale of hydrological processes with their extent (i.e., whether the processes are local or regional), more studies based on isotopic composition of surface and subsurface water, convective precipitation, and water vapor, are required. In particular, in situ measurements are important for accurate simulations of atmospheric hydrological cycles by isotope-enabled general circulation models.
- Kinetic fractionation
- Stable water isotopes