Deciphering key processes controlling rainfall isotopic variability during extreme tropical cyclones

Ricardo Sánchez-Murillo*, Ana M. Durán-Quesada, Germain Esquivel-Hernández, Daniela Rojas-Cantillano, Christian Birkel, Kristen Welsh, Minerva Sánchez-Llull, Carlos M. Alonso-Hernández, Doerthe Tetzlaff, Chris Soulsby, Jan Boll, Naoyuki Kurita, Kim M. Cobb

*Corresponding author for this work

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37 Citations (Scopus)
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The Mesoamerican and Caribbean (MAC) region is characterized by tropical cyclones (TCs), strong El Niño-Southern Oscillation events, and climate variability that bring unique hazards to socio-ecological systems. Here we report the first characterization of the isotopic evolution of a TC (Hurricane Otto, 2016) in the MAC region. We use long-term daily rainfall isotopes from Costa Rica and event-based sampling of Hurricanes Irma and Maria (2017), to underpin the dynamical drivers of TC isotope ratios. During Hurricane Otto, rainfall exhibited a large isotopic range, comparable to the annual isotopic cycle. As Hurricane Otto organized into a Category 3, rapid isotopic depletion coupled with a decrease in d-excess indicates efficient isotopic fractionation within ~200 km SW of the warm core. Our results shed light on key processes governing rainfall isotope ratios in the MAC region during continental and maritime TC tracks, with applications to the interpretation of paleo-hydroclimate across the tropics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4321
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Early online date20 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sep 2019


  • Atmospheric Chemistry
  • Climate Sciences
  • Hydrology
  • Natural Hazards


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