Environmental Geology

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 1–11 | Cite as

Observation of isotopes in the water cycle—the Swiss National Network (NISOT)

  • Marc Schürch
  • Ronald Kozel
  • Ulrich Schotterer
  • Jean-Pierre Tripet
Original Paper


The Swiss National Network for the Observation of Isotopes in the Water Cycle (NISOT) includes eleven precipitation, seven surface water (river) and three groundwater stations, where tritium, deuterium and oxygen-18 are monthly measured in composite samples. The network provides a good overview of the characteristic isotope signatures in recharge waters in Switzerland and of the relations between isotopes and altitude, orography and the amount of precipitation. Mixing of air water vapour and surface waters can be observed along a NW/SE cross section through the Alps. With increasing length of the data series, the network provides a valuable contribution for national and international scientific and practical applications in surface and subsurface hydrology, climatology and biology. The Swiss Geological Survey at the Federal Office for Water and Geology operates the isotope network within the legal framework of the Federal Law on the Protection of Waters and guarantees quality, access and distribution of the isotope data.


National observation network Stable isotopes Tritium Water cycle Switzerland 



The funding of the Swiss National Network for the Observation of Isotopes in the Water Cycle is covered by the annual budget of the Swiss Federal Office for Water and Geology. Hansueli Bürki, Peter Nyfeler, and Markus Leuenberger from the Division of Climate and Environmental Physics of the University of Berne and Jorge Spangenberg of the Institute for Mineralogy and Geochemistry of the University of Lausanne are acknowledged for the isotope measurements. The authors would like to thank the owners, responsible persons and technicians of the network stations for granting access to the stations when required and for careful water sampling. They also would like to thank Heinz Surbeck of the Centre of Hydrogeology of the University of Neuchâtel and George Darling of the British Geological Survey for improving the manuscript. One anonymous reviewer who provided constructive suggestions is gratefully acknowledged.


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Legal bases

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc Schürch
    • 1
  • Ronald Kozel
    • 1
  • Ulrich Schotterer
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jean-Pierre Tripet
    • 1
  1. 1.Federal Office for Water and Geology, Hydrogeology SectionSwiss Geological SurveyBerne-IttigenSwitzerland
  2. 2.Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics InstituteUniversity of BerneBerneSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryUniversity of BerneBerneSwitzerland

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