Skip to main content

Water Isotopes and Climate Workshop

Boulder, CO

Many of today’s grand challenges in climate science revolve around the water cycle. How sensitive are low-level clouds to climate variations? How do large-scale precipitation patterns and extremes evolve with natural and anthropogenic forcings? How do shifts in the hydrological cycle affect ecosystem structure and function, and vice versa?

Water isotope ratios are powerful tools for uncovering the mechanisms driving past, present, and future changes in the global water cycle. With the ability to “tag” moisture as it travels through the atmosphere, ocean, biosphere, and cryosphere, isotopes ratios provide insights into key processes that shape regional to global hydrological variability. The preservation of water isotopes in a diverse array of proxy records makes them an important bridge between past and present climate variability, with key implications for future climate change impacts.

Join us at the Water Isotopes and Climate Workshop in Boulder, Colorado this October to develop new strategies for applying isotope ratios towards understanding and predicting the water cycle’s role in climate variability and change. Workshop topics are likely to include (but are not limited to):

  • Performing paleoclimate data model comparisons for water-isotope based proxy systems, including paleoclimate data assimilation schema
  • Improving observational networks for water isotopes in the ocean, biosphere and atmosphere
  • Challenges and advantages of incorporating stable water isotope physics in GCMs
  • Using water isotopes to evaluate and improve model physics and parameterizations
  • Understanding the relationship between water isotopes and the large-scale circulation of the atmosphere and ocean
  • Evaluating atmosphere-land surface and atmosphere-biosphere interactions
  • Investigating the global hydrologic cycle, including continental recycling and atmospheric moisture transport
  • Elucidating the roles of water vapor, clouds, and precipitation processes in controlling climate sensitivity
  • Understanding internal climate variability from sub-seasonal to centennial time-scales.
  • Integrating paleoclimate data sets with modern observations and climate models toward improved understanding of climate variability and change

Submitting an abstract is not a prerequisite for participating in the workshop.

Target Participants

Whether you currently work with isotopic tracers or not, if you are interested in climate-related questions with a direct water cycle link, come help us identify the most effective ways to make progress in understanding and predicting water cycle variability and change by applying new isotopic measurement and modeling techniques. One of the workshop’s goals is to bring together a broad group of researchers, including observationalists and modelers, from across various climate-related disciplines. The workshop encourages the participation of scientists internationally.


National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Center Green Campus, Boulder, Colorado. 1-3 October 2019.

Workshop Objectives:

  • Support the development of a research and learning community interested in applying water isotopes to advance climate science.
  • Compile and distill the latest climate-relevant findings from the water isotope research community.
  • Assess near-term opportunities for water isotope- related research to accelerate our understanding of climate variability and climate change.
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses for water isotopes in atmosphere and ocean models.
  • Identify high-priority scientific targets for the next generation of water isotope observational systems and model experiments.
  • Identify design requirements for a novel isotope data archive to meet the needs of diverse user groups.

Format and Logistics

The 2.5-day meeting will consist of plenary sessions, including invited overview talks and contributed presentations, interactive poster sessions, and in-depth plenary and breakout discussions. The Organizing Committee anticipates 50-70 participants will attend. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis until capacity is reached.

Remote participation for those not attending in person will be available.

Hotel blocks for workshop participants at a reduced rate will be shared with registrants.

Abstract Submission

Abstracts submission is now closed.

Detailed Agenda

The agenda is now available.

Scientific Organizing Committee

Kim Cobb, Georgia Tech (co-chair)
David Noone, Oregon State University (co-chair)
Adriana Raudzens Bailey, NCAR (co-chair)
Alyssa Atwood, Florida State University
Sylvia Dee, Rice University
Jesse Nusbaumer, NCAR

Program Organizing Committee

Jeff Becker, US CLIVAR
Mike Patterson, US CLIVAR
Jennie Zhu, US CLIVAR


Tuesday, October 1
08:30 – 17:00

Wednesday, October 2
08:30 – 17:00

Thursday, October 3
8:30 – 12:30  

Registration Fees

General Registration: $200

Early Career Scientist: $100

Federal Program Sponsor: $200  



Closes: Sept. 27 (or when capacity is reached)

Abstract Submission & Application

Abstract submission is now closed