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Water Stable Isotopes in an Alpine Setting of the Northeastern Tibetan Plateau

College of Geography and Environmental Science, Northwest Normal University, Lanzhou 730070, China
Laboratory of Atmospheric Physics, University of Patras, GR 265 00 Patras, Greece
State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(4), 770;
Received: 13 March 2019 / Revised: 9 April 2019 / Accepted: 10 April 2019 / Published: 13 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrology)
PDF [5509 KB, uploaded 13 April 2019]


Hydrological processes produce effects on water resources in inland mountainous regions. To perform a comprehensive investigation of the important segments of the water cycle, using the Qilian Mountains as a case study, precipitation, soil, plant, river, and groundwater were collected during the plant growing season of 2016. All samples were collected on a monthly basis, except precipitation, which was collected on a per event basis. The results showed that: the “temperature effect” was apparent, which suggested a drier climate background; there were differences in the slope and intercept of the local meteoric water line, using different regression methods; and the δ18O of soil water varied greatly in the topsoil, tended to be similar in the deep soil, and became increasingly depleted as the soil depth increased. The responses of the soil water isotopes to precipitation pulses had different boundaries. The major water source for Caragana Fabr. in no-precipitation month was located in the 0–30 cm soil layer, but was different in months when precipitation occurred. Overall, the findings from the stable isotopes provide insights into hydrological processes and offer a platform to understand mountainous water cycle in arid areas. View Full-Text
Keywords: Qilian Mountains; stable isotopes; Iso Source; growth season; water uptake Qilian Mountains; stable isotopes; Iso Source; growth season; water uptake

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Qiu, X.; Zhang, M.; Wang, S.; Argiriou, A.A.; Chen, R.; Meng, H.; Guo, R. Water Stable Isotopes in an Alpine Setting of the Northeastern Tibetan Plateau. Water 2019, 11, 770.

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