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Original Research Papers

Isotope composition of air moisture over the Mediterranean Sea: an index of the air–sea interaction pattern

Authors:

J. R. Gat ,

Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research, Weizmann Institute of Science, IL
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B. Klein,

Institut fuer Umweltphysik, University of Bremen, DE
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Y. Kushnir,

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, US
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W. Roether,

Institut fuer Umweltphysik, University of Bremen, DE
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H. Wernli,

Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Science, CH
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R. Yam,

Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research, Weizmann Institute of Science, IL
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A. Shemesh

Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research, Weizmann Institute of Science, IL
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Abstract

The isotope composition of atmospheric moisture over the Mediterranean Sea, collected during the cruise of the research vessel meteorin January 1995, confirmed that the intensive air—sea interaction near the coast under conditions of a large humidity deficit labels the resultant atmospheric waters with a large deuterium-excess parameter. The present data set shows this effect to result both when cold air from the European continent moves over the sea as well as when warm and dry air from North Africa is involved. The situation in the eastern and western Mediterranean differ in the vertical structure of the isotope composition further away from the coast, as expressed by the gradients of the dexcess values with altitude over the sea surface, i.e. increasing with altitude in the eastern Mediterranean, whereas the opposite effect is noted in the western section and near the coast. A comparison of the isotopic composition of the samples with the expected buildup of moisture over the sea, based on the Craig—Gordon model, suggests that up to one half of the added moisture may have resulted at times from the evaporation of sea-spray droplets, without any significant isotope fractionation, in addition to the vapour-mediated transport from the sea surface, which favors the lighter isotopic species.

How to Cite: Gat, J.R., Klein, B., Kushnir, Y., Roether, W., Wernli, H., Yam, R. and Shemesh, A., 2003. Isotope composition of air moisture over the Mediterranean Sea: an index of the air–sea interaction pattern. Tellus B: Chemical and Physical Meteorology, 55(5), pp.953–965. DOI: http://doi.org/10.3402/tellusb.v55i5.16395
  Published on 01 Jan 2003
 Accepted on 14 May 2003            Submitted on 15 Aug 2002

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