Inverse altitude effect disputes the theoretical foundation of stable isotope paleoaltimetry

Jing, Zhaowei, Yu, Wusheng, Lewis, Stephen, Thompson, Lonnie G., Xu, Jie, Zhang, Jingyi, Xu, Baiqing, Wu, Guangjian, Ma, Yaoming, Wang, Yong, and Guo, Rong (2022) Inverse altitude effect disputes the theoretical foundation of stable isotope paleoaltimetry. Nature Communications, 13. 4371.

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Stable isotope paleoaltimetry that reconstructs paleoelevation requires stable isotope (δD or δ18O) values to follow the altitude effect. Some studies found that the δD or δ18O values of surface isotopic carriers in some regions increase with increasing altitude, which is defined as an “inverse altitude effect” (IAE). The IAE directly contradicts the basic theory of stable isotope paleoaltimetry. However, the causes of the IAE remain unclear. Here, we explore the mechanisms of the IAE from an atmospheric circulation perspective using δD in water vapor on a global scale. We find that two processes cause the IAE: (1) the supply of moisture with higher isotopic values from distant source regions, and (2) intense lateral mixing between the lower and mid-troposphere along the moisture transport pathway. Therefore, we caution that the influences of those two processes need careful consideration for different mountain uplift stages before using stable isotope palaeoaltimetry.

Item ID: 76359
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2041-1723
Copyright Information: ©The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copyof this license, visit
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2023 00:00
FoR Codes: 37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3709 Physical geography and environmental geoscience > 370999 Physical geography and environmental geoscience not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280107 Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences @ 100%
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