Stable isotope hydrology of surface and ground waters in King George Island, Antarctica

Aurel Perșoiu, Carmen Andreea Bădăluță, Jeonghoon Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The region around the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula is warming fast, a situation that will lead to widespread changes in local hydrological cycles. King George Island (KGI) hosts a complex network of lakes and rivers, fed by glaciers, snow and rain, and underlain by thick permafrost. We present here the first study of the stable isotope composition of the surface waters in the ice-free southern peninsulas of KGI. Permafrost samples had the highest δ 18O and δ 2H values (–6.7 and –50 ‰, respectively), and river waters the lowest (–9.1 and –70 ‰, respectively), with groundwater (–8.2 and –62.7 ‰, respectively), lakes (–8.6 and –66.8 ‰, respectively) and (summer) meltwater (–9 and –69.5 ‰, respectively) having intermediary values. Our results suggest that a clear separation of the various water bodies (permafrost, snow, meltwater, lakes) based on the δ 18Owater and δ 2Hwater is possible. Further, water in lakes on a W–E transect (i.e. with increased distance from the Bellingshausen Sea) have a general tendency towards lower δ 18O (and δ 2H) values. The results allow for the establishment of a baseline against which ongoing and future changes of the hydrological cycle could be analysed, and past climate changes be reconstructed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-425
Number of pages14
JournalIsotopes in Environmental and Health Studies
Issue number4-6
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

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© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Antarctica
  • King Georg Island
  • groundwater
  • hydrogen-2
  • lakes
  • oxygen-18
  • permafrost
  • surface water


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