Special Issue "Stable Isotopes in Atmospheric Research"
A special issue of Atmosphere (ISSN 2073-4433).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2019
The use of stable isotopes in atmospheric research stems from the use of isotopic tools and other nuclear methods in the study of the water cycle, which appeared in the mid-1940s. The works of teams like those of Tongiorgi, Italy, Urey, USA, and later that of Gat, Israel, gave important momentum in the field. The first isotope used, although not stable, was tritium. Tritium in the atmosphere is a result of natural processes—interactions between the various atmospheric components and cosmic radiation—but it is also due to human activities, mainly open-air thermonuclear tests, which resulted in the increase of its concentration to hazardous levels. Because of that, a systematic measurement campaign of tritium levels in the atmosphere and in water bodies was initiated all over the world. This monitoring led to the collection of very important information that allowed the study of global circulation patterns of water vapor in the atmosphere and the relation between the isotopic signature and meteorological and climatic conditions .
Later, in the early 1960s, starting with the works of Craig , Craig and Gordon  and Dansgaard , it was shown that the isotope fractionation of stable water isotopes, namely deuterium (D) and 18Ο observed in precipitation, could be adequately modeled using the Rayleigh differential equation describing the enrichment of alcohol in an alcohol/water mixture by distillation under equilibrium conditions; a linear relationship between the differences of the ratio of the numbers of an isotopic molecule with respect to the ratio of a standard, δ(2H) and δ(18O), termed to as meteoric water line, was established. Further studies showed that the evaporation of water over the oceans is a non-equilibrium process, but the inverse process (rainout from the atmosphere) occurs close to equilibrium and that the constant term of the linear model (termed to as d-excess parameter by Dansgaard ) depends on the source condition of the vapor and the slope on the fractionation mechanisms . It was therefore found that the δ(2H) ~ δ(18O) relation (slope and constant term) depends upon (i) fractionation conditions, (ii) latitude and annual temperature, (iii) seasonal variations, (iv) distance from the coastline, (v) amount, and (vi) small scale variations .
Therefore, stable isotopes provide, via the isotopic signature of atmospheric water vapor and precipitation an invaluable tool for atmospheric, meteorological and climatic studies. As examples, we may cite the use of stable isotopes to study: The Pacific and Indian monsoon systems and the of the ITCZ in Asia during the summer [7–9], cloud physics , and global circulation models . Additionally, stable isotopes have been used to study precipitation , past flood events , partitioning of the evapotranspiration , passage of cold fronts  and palaioclimate .
Also, stable isotopes are used to study problems of atmospheric chemistry, for example the global cycling of sulphur , the understanding of global CO2 cycle  and that of nitrogen .
Due to the importance of stable isotopes as a research tool in the field of atmospheric physics, the present Special Issue of Atmosphere aims to inform the scientific community about the current progress in the applications of stable isotopes in atmospheric research, covering a wide range of fields, i.e., atmospheric physics, dynamics of the atmosphere, meteorology, climatology and paleo climatology to further enhance their use in this discipline.
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Prof. Athanassios A. Argiriou
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