Differing source water inputs, moderated by evaporative enrichment, determine the contrasting δ18OCELLULOSE signals in maritime Antarctic moss peat banks
Oxygen isotope palaeoclimate records, preserved in moss tissue cellulose, are complicated by environmental influences on the relationships between source water inputs and evaporative conditions. We carried out stable isotope analyses of precipitation collected from the maritime Antarctic and cellulose extracted from co-located Chorisodontium aciphyllum dominated moss peat bank deposits accumulated since 1870 A.D. Analyses of stable oxygen and hydrogen isotope composition of summer precipitation on Signy Island (60.7°S, 45.6°W) established a local meteoric water line (LMWL) similar to both the global MWL and other LMWLs, and almost identical to the HadAM3 isotope-enabled global circulation model output. The oxygen isotopic composition of cellulose (δ18OC) revealed little temporal variation between four moss peat banks on Signy Island since 1870. However, δ18OC followed two patterns with Sites A and D consistently 3‰ enriched relative to δ18OC values from Sites B and C. The growing moss surfaces at Sites A and D are likely to have been hydrated by isotopically heavier summer precipitation, whilst at Sites B and C, the moss banks are regularly saturated by the isotopically depleted snow melt streams. Laboratory experiments revealed that evaporative enrichment of C. aciphyllum moss leaf water by 5‰ occurred rapidly following saturation (ecologically equivalent to post-rainfall or snow melt periods). In addition to the recognized source water-cellulose fractionation extent of 27 ± 3‰, such a shift would account for the 32‰ difference measured between δ18O of Signy Island precipitation and cellulose.
Authors: Royles, Jessica, Sime, Louise C., Hodgson, Dominic A., Convey, Peter, Griffiths, Howard