The role of fog, orography, and seasonality on precipitation in a semiarid, tropical island

Sarah R. Schmitt, Diego A. Riveros-Iregui, Jia Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Isotopes of water (2H/1H and 18O/16O) are commonly used to trace hydrological processes such as moisture recycling, evaporation loss, and moisture source region and often vary temporally in a given region. This study provides a first-ever characterization of temporally variable precipitation mechanisms of San Cristóbal Island, Galápagos. We collected fog, rain, and throughfall samples over three field seasons to understand the mechanisms driving seasonal- and event-based variability in the isotopic composition of precipitation in Galápagos. We establish that fog is a common phenomenon in San Cristóbal, especially during the dry season, and we found that fog, compared with cocollected rainfall, is consistently enriched. We further suggest that the relative contribution of fog formed via different mechanisms (orographic, advective, radiation) varied seasonally. We found that the source region is the most dominant control of the isotopic composition of rainfall in the Galápagos at both the seasonal and event scales, but subcloud evaporative processes (the nontraditional manifestation of the amount effect) became a dominant control on the isotopic composition of rainfall during the dry season. Overall, our findings suggest that understanding seasonally variable water-generating mechanisms is required for effective water resource management in San Cristóbal Island and other semiarid island ecosystems under current and future regimes of climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2792-2805
Number of pages14
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number18
StatePublished - Aug 30 2018


  • Galápagos
  • climate change
  • fog
  • oxygen-18
  • seasonality
  • stable isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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