Plant Water δd and δ18O of Tundra Species from West Greenland

Rosemary T. Bush*, Melissa A. Berke, Andrew D. Jacobson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Stable hydrogen and oxygen isotope ratios (δD and δ18O) of archived plant tissues can be used in paleoenvironmental reconstructions, assuming a well-grounded understanding of the environmental drivers of stable isotope variation in plant waters. Previous plant water calibration studies have focused on lower latitudes, but given the importance of arctic climate reconstructions, it is necessary to understand the drivers of isotope fractionation in plants that are unique to high latitudes. Here, we present δD and δ18O values of plant waters from the Kangerlussuaq area in West Greenland. We use the evaporation line created by the xylem waters to estimate the hydrogen and oxygen isotope values of local meteoric source water and find values that are lower than modeled estimates. We also apply the modified Craig-Gordon leaf water model, using local climate parameters and xylem water values to model leaf water values. We find that measured plant water values are generally in good agreement with model estimates, and discrepancies are likely explained by plant microclimates that are warmer and drier than average air measurements. This study extends stable isotope calibrations to arctic regions and provides a new estimate of average precipitation water isotopes values, which in turn inform plant proxy-based paleoclimate studies in the Arctic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-358
Number of pages18
JournalArctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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