Stable isotopes as validation tools for global climate model predictions of the impact of Amazonian deforestation

A. Henderson-Sellers*, K. McGuffie, H. Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines changes in isotopic abundances for 18O and deuterium in precipitation over the Amazon basin based on data in the Global Network on Isotopes in Precipitation (GNIP) database from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)/WMO. The analysis is conducted in the context of recent changes (and anticipated future changes) to the land surface hydrology as a result of tropical deforestation. Statistically significant temporal changes (1965-90) in selected stable isotopic signatures in the Amazon have been compared with global climate model (GCM) predictions revealing notable differences. For example, the wet season deuterium excess differences between Belem and Manaus, Brazil, are consistent with recent GCM simulations only if there has been a relative increase in evaporation from nonfractionating water sources over this period. No significant change in dry season isotopic characteristics is found despite earlier predictions that land-use change signals would be found. Results of GCM simulations of Amazonian deforestation suggest that the recent stable isotope record is more consistent with the predicted effects of greenhouse warming possibly combined with forest removal than with the predicted effects of deforestation alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2664-2677
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2002
Externally publishedYes


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