Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 254–263 | Cite as

Spatial differentiation in stable isotope compositions of surface waters and its environmental significance in the Issyk-Kul Lake region of Central Asia



Stable isotope values of oxygen (18O) and hydrogen (2H) of surface waters were used to study the origin and environmental significances in the Issyk-Kul basin of Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia, which is the most important intermountain basin in the modern Tien Shan orogen. This study is the first analysis of hydrochemical spatial differentiation in the stable isotopes of surface waters in this watershed. 75 samples were collected from rivers, springs, lakes, rain and snow during the rainy season in July and August of 2016. Stable isotopes of 18O and 2H were studied for all samples, and cation ratios (Sr/Ca and Mg/Ca) were also determined for lake water samples. Stable isotope values from precipitation scattered around the Local Meteoric Water Line (determined from Urumqi Station of the global network of isotopes in precipitation (GNIP)), together with values of the Deuterium excess parameter (d) from 15.3‰ to 30.5‰, with an average of 19.8‰, indicating that the moisture sources are primarily from regions with low relative humidity. The δ18O and δ2H values were significantly different between the river and lake samples, indicating that regional evaporation caused the isotopic enrichment of lake water. Geospatial autocorrelation, measured by Moran’s I coefficient, indicated weak spatial autocorrelation within stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen in the surface waters of the studied area, which is primarily an effect of climate during the water chemistry evolution. The cation ratios Sr/Ca and Mg/Ca in lake water samples were not correlated with the concentration of total dissolved solids, but did show correlation with stable isotopic values, which is significant for paleoenvironmental reconstruction.


Spatial differentiation Stable isotope Moisture Sources Geospatial autocorrelation Issyk-Kul Lake Central Asia 


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We thank Prof. WU Jing-lu and Dr. Abdyzhapar SALAMAT for their assistance in field work. This paper was supported by the Science and Technology Service Network Fund Project in the Chinese Academy of Sciences (TSS-2015-014-FW- 1-2), National Natural Science Foundation of China (U1603242; 41471173), West Light Foundation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2016-QNXZ-A- 4) and Youth Innovation Promotion Association, Chinese Academy of Sciences (2014390)

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Spatial differentiation in stable isotope compositions of surface waters and its environmental significance in the Issyk-Kul Lake region of Central Asia


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and GeographyChinese Academy of SciencesUrumqiChina
  2. 2.CAS Research Center for Ecology and Environment of Central AsiaUrumqiChina

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