Seasonal and spatial variation in the stable isotopic composition (δ18O and δD) of precipitation in south Florida

René M. Price, Peter K. Swart, Hugh E. Willoughby

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65 Scopus citations


Precipitation data collected from five sites in south Florida indicate a strong seasonal and spatial variation in δ18O and δD, despite the relatively limited geographic coverage and low-lying elevation of each of the collection sites. Based upon the weighted-mean stable isotope values, the sites were classified as coastal Atlantic, inland, and lower Florida Keys. The coastal Atlantic sites had weighted-mean values of δ18O and δD of -2.86‰ and -12.8‰, respectively, and exhibited a seasonal variation with lower δ18O and δD values in the summer wet-season precipitation (δ18O = -3.38‰, δD = -16.5‰) as compared to the winter-time precipitation (δ18O = -1.66‰, δD = -3.2‰). The inland site was characterized as having the highest d-excess value (+13.3‰), signifying a contribution of evaporated Everglades surface water to the local atmospheric moisture. In spite of its lower latitude, the lower Keys site located at Long Key had the lowest weighted-mean stable isotope values (δ18O = -3.64‰, δD = -20.2‰) as well as the lowest d-excess value of (+8.8‰). The lower δD and δ18O values observed at the Long Key site reflect the combined effects of oceanic vapor source, fractionation due to local precipitation, and slower equilibration of the larger raindrops nucleated by a maritime aerosol. Very low δ18O and δD values (δ18O < -6‰, δD < -40‰) were observed just prior to the passage of hurricanes from the Gulf of Mexico as well as during cold fronts from the north-west. These results suggest that an oceanic vapor source region to the west, may be responsible for the extremely low δD and δ18O values observed during some tropical storms and cold fronts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-205
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Sep 5 2008


  • Hydrogen
  • Oxygen
  • Precipitation
  • South Florida
  • Stable isotopes
  • Tropical storms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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