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Precipitation isoscapes for New Zealand: enhanced temporal detail using precipitation-weighted daily climatology†
Predictive understanding of precipitation δ2H and δ18O in New Zealand faces unique challenges, including high spatial variability in precipitation amounts, alternation between subtropical and sub-Antarctic precipitation sources, and a compressed latitudinal range of 34 to 47 °S. To map the precipitation isotope ratios across New Zealand, three years of integrated monthly precipitation samples were acquired from >50 stations. Conventional mean-annual precipitation δ2H and δ18O maps were produced by regressions using geographic and annual climate variables. Incomplete data and short-term variation in climate and precipitation sources limited the utility of this approach. We overcome these difficulties by calculating precipitation-weighted monthly climate parameters using national 5-km-gridded daily climate data. This data plus geographic variables were regressed to predict δ2H, δ18O, and d-excess at all sites. The procedure yields statistically-valid predictions of the isotope composition of precipitation (long-term average root mean square error (RMSE) for δ18O = 0.6 ‰; δ2H = 5.5 ‰); and monthly RMSE δ18O = 1.9 ‰, δ2H = 16 ‰. This approach has substantial benefits for studies that require the isotope composition of precipitation during specific time intervals, and may be further improved by comparison to daily and event-based precipitation samples as well as the use of back-trajectory calculations.