A Caltech Library Service

Climatic implications of D/H ratios of meteoric water over North America (9500–22,000 B.P.) as inferred from ancient wood cellulose C-H hydrogen

Yapp, Crayton J. and Epstein, Samuel (1977) Climatic implications of D/H ratios of meteoric water over North America (9500–22,000 B.P.) as inferred from ancient wood cellulose C-H hydrogen. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 34 (3). pp. 333-350. ISSN 0012-821X. doi:10.1016/0012-821X(77)90043-7.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


δD and δ^(13)C values have been measured for the unexchangeable hydrogen and the total carbon of cellulose extracted from 40 North American ^(14)C-dated trees that range in age from 9500 to 22,000 years B.P. Meteoric waters which precipitated over ice-free regions of North America in the interval 14,000–22,000 B.P. had more positive δD values than corresponding modern waters by an average of 19‰. Lower ocean temperatures and smaller temperature gradients than exist at present between ocean and ice-free North America are indicated for the late Wisconsin glacial maximum. This is compatible with warmer winters and cooler summers for this glacial period. The δD value of the North American ice sheet during the Late Wisconsin maximum was approximately −100‰ as determined from the inferred δD values of the waters of proglacial lakes Agassiz and Whittlesey. From this figure the increase in δ^(18)O of the oceans during the glacial maximum can be calculated to have been +0.8‰. At the point where they began to move over the ice, air masses supplying moisture to the North American ice sheet contained a little more than 50% of their original moisture content, which is a much greater percentage than exists in air masses supplying the modern Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. This relatively vapor-rich air coupled with lower summer temperatures, which reduced ablation, probably contributed to the maintenance and growth of the ice sheet. The transition from glacial to interglacial conditions on North America was rapid and occurred within a 2000–3000-year interval. However, the transition may not have been synchronous over North America. A 40-year δD record in a spruce branch from the Two Creeks (Wisconsin) forest (∼11,800 B.P.) shows large variations which suggest an unusual hydrologic environment in the area of the tree. Cellulose δ^(13)C values range between −20.8 and −25.9‰, but do not correlate with δD variations for the samples analyzed in this work. Thus, climatic significance of δ^(13)C variations cannot be resolved from these data.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Additional Information:© 1977 Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company. Received August 2, 1976. Revised version received December 30, 1976. We wish to thank the following individuals for providing samples: R. Berger and W.F. Libby, University of California, Los Angeles, Calif.; D. Mickelson, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wise.; C.L. Oman and M. Rubin, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Va.; B.N. Smith, B.Y.U., Provo, Utah; S. Wood, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, Calif.; and H. E. Suess, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, La Jolla, Calif. We are grateful for critical comments by Prof. H. Craig and Prof. S.M. Savin. This work was supported by N.S.F. grant EAR71-00558A4.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences2795
Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130717-080723638
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Crayton J. Yapp, Samuel Epstein, Climatic implications of D/H ratios of meteoric water over North America (9500–22,000 B.P.) as inferred from ancient wood cellulose CH hydrogen, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 34, Issue 3, April 1977, Pages 333-350, ISSN 0012-821X, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:39408
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:17 Jul 2013 15:25
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:44

Repository Staff Only: item control page