Isotope Hydrology Section

This Section implements all activities of the IAEA's Water Resources Programme, which promotes and transfers know-how on the use of isotope hydrology as an effective tool for water resources assessment and sustainable water management. It also provides assistance and training on analytical services via its Isotope Hydrology Laboratory.

The Section maintains and operates several global isotope data networks for hydrology and climate studies, including the IAEA Global Network of Isotopes in Precipitation and the Global Network of Isotope Rivers. These unique networks provide Member States access to global and regional data sets on water isotopes (oxygen-18, deuterium and tritium) and related mapping products. These widely used data sets are extremely useful tools for hydrological, climatological and environmental studies. Additional activities of the Section are related to the dissemination of isotope hydrology tools and methods through specialized publications and training.

The Section closely cooperates with Member States, through the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme, bilateral cooperation and collaboration with other international organizations, on improving the availability and sustainability of freshwater resources through science-based, comprehensive water resources assessments. It also promotes the use of isotope techniques for assessing water resources and managing surface and groundwater on local and national scales, as well as in the case of shared transboundary water resources. 

In the field of radioisotope applications, the Section uses, among other tracers, the naturally-occurring radioisotopes of hydrogen (tritium), carbon (carbon-14) and noble gases (helium-3, helium-4 and krypton-81) to help Member States better assess and manage their river and groundwater resources. The Section also aims to strengthen the self-reliance of Member States in using isotope hydrology by helping them improve their analytical capacity regarding the various isotopes commonly used in isotope hydrology.