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Schemmel, Fabian
Mikes, Tamas
Rojay, Fuat Bora
Mulch, Andreas
Paleoelevation reconstructions of mountain belts and orogenic plateaus based on stable isotope climate and precipitation records benefit greatly from present-day calibrations that relate the fractionation of hydrogen (delta D) and oxygen (delta O-18) isotopes in precipitation to orographic rainfall. Here, we establish a first-order template of delta D and delta O-18 of modern meteoric waters across the Central Anatolian Plateau (CAP) and its bordering Pontic and Taurus Mountains. We identify key regions in the plateau interior and along the plateau margins that have the potential to reliably record topography-related paleotemperature and paleoprecipitation changes as recovered from stable isotope paleosol, fossil teeth or lipid proxy data. Based on delta D and delta O-18 data of more than 480 surface water samples from small catchments and springs, we characterize moisture sources affecting the net isotopic budget of precipitation over the CAP and analyze how orographic rainout and plateau aridity shape modern patterns of delta D and delta O-18 in precipitation. The Taurus Mountains bordering the CAP to the south act as a major orographic barrier for transport of predominantly winter moisture and exhibit isotopic lapse rates of approximately -20 parts per thousand/km for delta D and -2.9 parts per thousand/km for delta O-18 across an elevation range of nearly 3000 m. The Pontic Mountains at the northern margin of the CAP force perennial moisture to ascend and condensate revealing lapse rates of -19 parts per thousand/km for delta D and -2.6 parts per thousand/km for delta O-18. The difference in the predominant moisture source for the southern and northern margins of the CAP (North African versus Atlantic air masses) is manifested in systematic north-south differences in near-sea level meteoric water compositions of Delta(delta DN-S) similar to 20 permil and Delta(delta O-18(N-S)) similar to 3 permil in a swath across the central part of the plateau. Stable isotope data from the semi-arid plateau interior with rainfall as low as 300 to 500 mm/yr and mean summer temperatures attaining 23 degrees C, provide clear evidence for an evaporative regime that drastically affects surface water and runoff compositions and results in a local meteoric water line for the plateau interior that follows delta D = 4.0 center dot delta O-18 - 29.3. Strongly evaporitic conditions contrast rainfall patterns along the plateau margins including their immediate leeward flanks where delta D- and delta O-18-elevation relationships are reliable predictors of modern topography.