Isoscapes of δ18O and δ2H reveal climatic forcings on Alaska and Yukon precipitation

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Spatially extensive Arctic stable isotope data are sparse, inhibiting the climatic understanding required to interpret paleoclimate proxy records. To fill this need, we constrained the climatic and physiographic controls on δ18O and δD values of stream waters across Alaska and the Yukon to derive interpolated isoscape maps. δ18O is strongly correlated to winter temperature parameters and similarity of the surface water line (δ2H = 8.0 × δ18O + 6.4) to the Global Meteoric Water Line suggests stream waters are a proxy for meteoric precipitation. We observe extreme orographic δ18O decreases and a trans-Alaskan continental gradient of −8.3‰ 1000 km−1. Continental gradients are high in coastal zones and low in the interior. Localized δ18O increases indicate inland air mass penetration via topographic lows. Using observed δ18O/temperature gradients, we show that δ18O decreases in a ∼24 ka permafrost ice wedge relative to the late Holocene indicate mean annual and coldest quarter temperature reductions of 8.9 ± 1.7°C and 17.2 ± 3.2°C, respectively. © 2016. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


Alaska; isoscape; isotope climatology; stable isotopes; temperature effect

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