National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2023

Isotopic measurements in water vapor, precipitation, and seawater during EUREC4A

Bailey, A., F. Aemisegger, L. Villiger, S.A. Los, G. Reverdin, E. Quiñones Meléndez, C. Acquistapace, D.B. Baranowski, T. Böck, S. Bony, T. Bordsdorff, D. Coffman, S.P. de Szoeke, C.J. Diekmann, M. Dütsch, B. Ertl, J. Galewsky, D. Henze, P. Makuch, D. Noone, P.K. Quinn, M. Rösch, A. Schneider, M. Schneider, S. Speich, B. Stevens, and E.J. Thompson

Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 15(1), 465–495, doi: 10.5194/essd-15-465-2023, View online at Copernicus Publications (external link) (2023)

In early 2020, an international team set out to investigate trade-wind cumulus clouds and their coupling to the large-scale circulation through the field campaign EUREC4A: ElUcidating the RolE of Clouds-Circulation Coupling in ClimAte. Focused on the western tropical Atlantic near Barbados, EUREC4A deployed a number of innovative observational strategies, including a large network of water isotopic measurements collectively known as EUREC4A-iso, to study the tropical shallow convective environment. The goal of the isotopic measurements was to elucidate processes that regulate the hydroclimate state – for example, by identifying moisture sources, quantifying mixing between atmospheric layers, characterizing the microphysics that influence the formation and persistence of clouds and precipitation, and providing an extra constraint in the evaluation of numerical simulations. During the field experiment, researchers deployed seven water vapor isotopic analyzers on two aircraft, on three ships, and at the Barbados Cloud Observatory (BCO). Precipitation was collected for isotopic analysis at the BCO and from aboard four ships. In addition, three ships collected seawater for isotopic analysis. All told, the in situ data span the period 5 January–22 February 2020 and cover the approximate area 6 to 16∘ N and 50 to 60∘ W, with water vapor isotope ratios measured from a few meters above sea level to the mid-free troposphere and seawater samples spanning the ocean surface to several kilometers depth.

This paper describes the full EUREC4A isotopic in situ data collection – providing extensive information about sampling strategies and data uncertainties – and also guides readers to complementary remotely sensed water vapor isotope ratios. All field data have been made publicly available even if they are affected by known biases, as is the case for high-altitude aircraft measurements, one of the two BCO ground-based water vapor time series, and select rain and seawater samples from the ships. Publication of these data reflects a desire to promote dialogue around improving water isotope measurement strategies for the future. The remaining, high-quality data create unprecedented opportunities to close water isotopic budgets and evaluate water fluxes and their influence on cloudiness in the trade-wind environment. The full list of dataset DOIs and notes on data quality flags are provided in Table 3 of Sect. 5 (“Data availability”).

Feature Publications | Outstanding Scientific Publications

Contact Sandra Bigley |