Isotope Records from Mongolian and Alpine Ice Cores as Climate Indicators

  • U. Schotterer
  • K. Fröhlich
  • H. W. Gäggeler
  • S. Sandjordj
  • W. Stichler


The link between long term changes in the isotopic composition of precipitation and surface air temperature at a given location is of exceptional importance for paleoclimatic studies, as ahs been demonstrated by many recent publications based on the isotope records from polar ice cores. By means of direct comparison with instrumental data, this paper evaluates the potential of the deuterium and oxygen-18 records from two continental glaciers for monitoring climatic trends. The isotopic data presented characterize climatically contrasted enviroments. The records from the Swiss glacier show distinct seasonal variations. Oxygen-18 is fairly well correlated with the instrumental record of atmospheric temperature; the seasonal differences in deuterium excess reflect nearness to the oceanic moisture source. By contrast, the isotope data from the Mongolian site show poor correlation with atmospheric temperature. The seasonal variations in deuterium excess, with higher values during summer time, indicate that precipitation largely originates from re-evaporated continental moisture sources. In both cases however, the correlation with temperature is significantly improved by the elimination of values derived from years where major changes in seasonal distribution and/or snow loss obviously have occurred, thereby distoring the isotopic ratios for that particular year. Depending on the site selected for study, the stable isotope composition of ice cores should therefore be viewed not only as a proxy for atmospheric temperature, but also as an additional hydrometeorological parameter and source indicator for atmospheric moisture.


Atmospheric Temperature Instrumental Data Instrumental Record Moisture Source Tritium Concentration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • U. Schotterer
    • 1
    • 2
  • K. Fröhlich
    • 3
  • H. W. Gäggeler
    • 4
    • 2
  • S. Sandjordj
    • 5
  • W. Stichler
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Climate and Environmental PhysicsUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Paul Scherrer InstituteVilligenSwitzerland
  3. 3.Isotope Hydrology SectionInternational Atomic Energy AgencyViennaAustria
  4. 4.Institute of Radio- and Environmental ChemistryUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  5. 5.Institute for Water ProblemsUlan BaatorMongolia
  6. 6.GSF — Institute for HydrologyNeuherberg, OberschleissheimGermany

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