Tritium Records to Trace Stratospheric Moisture Inputs in Antarctica

Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Published: 2018-03-10

DOI: 10.1002/2018jd028304

Affiliations: 5

Authors: 6

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Research Highlight

Stratospheric clues below the ice

© Eastcott Momatiuk/DigitalVision/Getty

© Eastcott Momatiuk/DigitalVision/Getty

Concentrations of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, in Antarctic ice could shed light on the stratosphere’s role in the water cycle.

Natural tritium forms in the stratosphere — between 14 and 50 kilometres above Earth — and enters the water cycle by merging with hydrogen and oxygen. Tritium is thought to be a better tracer for stratospheric moisture than chemicals such as beryllium which get attached to aerosols. 

A team, including a researcher from Roshydromet, measured tritium concentrations over the last 50 years in three ice cores from the Vostok station, Antarctica. They observed a 10-year cycle, linked to solar cycles, and a three to five-year cycle that could be linked to atmospheric circulation.

This new dataset could help clarify how climate conditions are affected by moisture from the stratosphere.

Supported content

  1. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 123, 3009–3018 (2018). doi: 10.1002/2018JD028304
Institutions FC
IPSL Sciences Laboratory of Climate and the Environment (LSCE), France 0.58
Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI), Roshydromet, Russia 0.17
Institute for Geosciences and Environmental Research (IGE), France 0.17
IPSL Dynamic Meteorology Laboratory (LMD), France 0.08

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