Progress in isotope tracer hydrology in Canada

  • Gibson J
  • Edwards T
  • Birks S
 et al. 
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Abstract

An overview of current research in isotope hydrology, focusing on recent Canadian contributions, is discussed under the headings: precipitation networks, hydrograph separation and groundwater studies, river basin hydrology, lake and catchment water balance, and isotope palaeohydrology from lake sediment records. Tracer-based techniques, relying primarily on the naturally occurring environmental isotopes, have been integrated into a range of hydrological and biogeochemical research programmes, as they effectively complement physical and chemical techniques. A significant geographic focus of Canadian isotope hydrology research has been on the Mackenzie River basin, forming contributions to programmes such as the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment. Canadian research has also directly supported international efforts such as the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Global Network for Isotopes in Precipitation and IAEAs Coordinated Research Project on Large River Basins. One significant trend in Canadian research is toward sustained long-term monitoring of precipitation and river discharge to enable better characterization of spatial and temporal variability in isotope signatures and their underlying causes. One fundamental conclusion drawn from previous studies in Canada is that combined use of δ 18O and δ2H enables the distinction of precipitation variability from evaporation effects, which offers significant advantages over use of the individual tracers alone. The study of hydrological controls on water chemistry is one emerging research trend that stems from the unique ability to integrate isotope sampling within both water quality and water quantity surveys. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Deuterium
  • Deuterium excess
  • Groundwater
  • Isotope hydrology
  • Isotope mass balance
  • Oxygen-18
  • River basin hydrology
  • Surface water

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