Global Network of Isotopes in Precipitation (GNIP) and Global Network of Isotopes in Rivers (GNIR) Within the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and cooperative involved organizations, also with involvement of other regional laboratories globally, as the regional Isotope laboratory in the Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ) played an important role in Nuclear Isotope Hydrology of peaceful Application.

Isotope hydrology is a nuclear technique that uses both stable and radioactive environmental isotopes to trace the movements of water in the hydrological cycle. Isotopes are atoms of the same element that are chemically identical, but physically different.

Common isotopes integrated within the GNIP and GNIR networks in the IAEA are stable isotopes of deuterium ( 2H), oxygen-18 (18O)    and  radioactive isotopes of Tritium ( 3H).

Isotopes in a Hydrologic Cycle.
Hydrological Cycle: Isotopes in a Hydrologic Cycle.

Global Network of Isotopes in Precipitation (GNIP):

 The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA’s) Water Resources Program and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have been surveying the stable hydrogen and oxygen isotope and tritium composition in precipitation around the globe since 1961.

Isotopic data collected as part of the GNIP network serves as an indispensable database to inform a range of scientific disciplines, including, but not limited to hydrology, meteorology and climatology, oceanography and limnology, and in studies related to the Earth’s water cycle and climate. Recently, GNIP has played an important new role in facilitating novel isotope research in ecological investigations, food authentication and traceability, and forensics.

Global Network of Isotopes in Rivers (GNIR)

The Global Network of Isotopes in Rivers (GNIR) for compiling isotope data on river waters, complementary to the 45 year old IAEA/WMO Global Network of Isotopes in Precipitation (GNIP), has been launched by the IAEA recently. The GNIR is aimed at an improved understanding of stream-aquifer interactions in the river plains, impacts of climate changes on river runoff, and human impacts on river discharge with the use of isotope data. Recent studies suggest that the impacts of storages, diversions and redirection of streamflow for water supply, hydropower, and irrigation might surpass the impact of recent and anticipated future climate changes on river runoff. Consequences of these effects include changes in frequency and extent of flooding, increased sediment load, altered groundwater recharge, and degradation of water quality and riparian ecosystems, often resulting in political disputes or upstream-downstream inequities.

Eng. Mohammad Radwan Almomani

Amman, Jordan