Rain and snow events are largely driven by global climate conditions. The hydrogen and oxygen isotopes of precipitation are highly sensitive indicators of their sources and history in the water cycle and are fundamental to our understanding of many environmental processes.

Since 1961, the IAEA and the World Meteorological Organization have operated the Global Network of Isotopes in Precipitation, a resource that provides a record of oxygen and hydrogen isotopes obtained from global monthly precipitation samples. Its online database contains data collections from more than 1,200 meteorological stations in over 100 countries around the world. The IAEA supports its Member States with advice and logistical and technical support to set up monitoring stations that sample precipitation for isotopic analysis.

The database is used extensively by researchers and experts of global climate, meteorology, ecology and hydrology, to help inform climate models and to characterize hydrologic inputs to the landscape and aquifers over different spatial scales. In recent years, the database is increasingly used by more diverse international researchers, including on eco-hydrology, food authenticity, wildlife studies, criminal forensics and the illegal trade in commodities.

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