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New: Software to Manage Tritium Laboratories

The IAEA Water Resources Programme is pleased to announce the release of a new software tool to assist tritium laboratories with managing and improving their 3H analyses and data processing in the context of isotope hydrology studies. The ‘IAEA Tritium Information Management System (TRIMS)’ is a new Windows-based platform to manage users, sample preparation, radioactivity counting, data processing and quality control management. The software can be used with all 3H sample preparation and enrichments systems, and with all liquid scintillation counters. TRIMS is cost-free to download and use. Full details, a user manual, and the software download links are found in our Trainings and Software page.

TRIC2018 – 10th IAEA International Tritium Inter-comparison Test

The IAEA Isotope Hydrology Section is pleased to announce the 2018 Tritium Inter-comparison test (TRIC2018) for the evaluation of 3H measurements of natural waters conducted by all types of preparative and analytical detection methods. This international test is open to tritium laboratories using liquid scintillation counting, tritium-helium in-growth, and gas proportional counting methods.

The TRIC2018 samples comprise two sets: 4 water samples having ultra-low 3H activities (range 0-12 TU) intended to span the contemporary range found in rain, sea, surface, and ground waters; 3 operational water samples spanning a tritium activity range suitable for direct counting and/or representing electrolytically enriched samples, laboratory calibration standards, and enriched 'spikes' (range ~40-500 TU).

If you have questions about TRIC2018, please contact us:

2018 World Water Day

WWD 2018The theme for 2018 World Water Day is “Nature for water”; reflecting the importance of understanding natural processes in the water cycle – the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth. The mass of water on Earth remains fairly constant over time but the partitioning of the water into the major reservoirs of ice, fresh water, saline water and atmospheric water – clouds – varies depending on a wide range of climatic variables. In this portioning, water goes through different forms: liquid, solid (ice) and vapour. Environmental isotopes play a key role in understanding these stages of the water cycle and thereby enabling their measurement and sustainable management of the resource. Read more

2018 - Nature-based Solutions | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

The IAEA launches a new Coordinated Research Project (CRP) entitled “Global Monitoring of Nitrogen Isotopes in Atmospheric Waters” (F32008, 2018-2021)

The increasing production of food and energy worldwide has multiplied today's anthropogenic emissions of nitrogen compounds in the atmosphere, which are transported and deposited through precipitation on the terrestrial and aquatic systems. Disruption of N-balance, eutrophication in rivers and lakes, and stream acidification are a few of the negative consequences, when N-deposition exceeds the remediation capacity or critical load of the aquatic system. Environmental isotopes have been widely used not only to assess hydrological processes, but also to address water quality issues, such as nitrogen pollution. This CRP aims to determine the spatio-temporal distribution of nitrogen isotopes in precipitation as a potential source of nitrogen pollution of water resources, especially of aquatic systems sensitive to eutrophication stressors. This CRP aims to combine N-isotopes with atmospheric chemistry and hydrometeorological techniques to better understand wet deposition processes and to characterize the origin of inorganic nitrogen loadings. Overall, the CRP will aim at improving the capability and expertise among participating Member States in the use of environmental isotopes to assess impacts of nitrogen wet deposition on water quality and ecosystems.

For more information on submission procedure please visit IAEA CRP website

CRP PROPOSAL DEADLINE: 28 February 2018. For further information or questions please contact Mr Ioannis Matiatos

The IAEA launches a new Coordinated Research Project (CRP) entitled “Isotope techniques for the evaluation of water sources in irrigation systems” (F33025, 2018-2021)

Globally, irrigated agriculture consumes 70% of fresh water resources and provides 40% of global food requirements. Increase in agricultural production and productivity depends, to a large extent, on the availability of water which is drawn either from river diversions (canal irrigation) or from aquifers (groundwater irrigation). Groundwater resources are often the only source of reliable clean water in many parts of the world. In most of the cases, good quality aquifers are exploited for irrigation at rates higher than natural replenishment rates leading to decline in groundwater levels. Therefore a more precise knowledge of sources of water and estimates of recharge rates, and groundwater dating to know how fast the aquifer is replenished are important aspects to assess future availability and sustainability of these resources. This CRP aims to improve capability and expertise among Member States in the use of environmental isotope techniques for better assessment and mapping of water sources for improved irrigation practices and sustainable water management in irrigated areas.

For more information on submission procedure please visit IAEA CRP website

CRP PROPOSAL DEADLINE: 28 February 2018. For further information or questions please contact Mr Umaya Doss SARAVANA KUMAR

The IAEA launches a new Coordinated Research Project (CRP) entitled “Use of Isotope Techniques for the Evaluation of Water Sources for Domestic Supply in Urban Areas” (F33024, 2018-2021)

The exploding urban population growth creates unprecedented challenges, among which provision for water is of paramount interest. Water is at the very core of sustainable development goals, which are not only addressing issues related to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, but also the quality and sustainability of water resources worldwide. The provision of water for domestic supply in urban areas is complex and usually involves many sources (i.e. groundwater, surface water, and in some cases seawater) with different isotopic signatures. These unique isotopic signatures can be used to better define sources, pathways and interactions of water bodies in urban environments. This CRP aims to develop, test and integrate new methodologies and capabilities using environmental isotopes to better assess, map and manage water resources used for domestic water supply in urban areas.

For more information on submission procedure please visit IAEA CRP website

CRP PROPOSAL DEADLINE: 28 February 2018. For further information or questions please contact Ms Lucia Ortega

The IAEA launches a new Coordinated Research Project (CRP) entitled “Isotope-enabled Models for Improved Estimates of Water Balance in Catchments” (F31005, 2018-2021).

Water balance modelling often involves the use of parameters that are difficult to measure or estimate. It is common practice to apply model calibration, which involves estimating best combination of parameter values that produce best fits between observed and simulated events. During model calibration, we may get the “right” answer for the “wrong” reason, whereby different combinations of parameter values may give the same “best” answer. This problem, known as equifinality (Beven, 1996), can partly be minimized through the use of conservative tracers such as stable water isotopes. The IAEA has been exploring the use of its Global Network of Isotopes in Precipitation (GNIP) and Global Network of Isotopes in Rivers (GNIR) data in hydrological models for application to hydrological studies and water resources management issues in basins around the globe. The Agency developed IWBMIso (Belachew et al., 2016), a monthly catchment - lake water balance model tightly coupled with isotope mass balance. There are also similar such efforts elsewhere; e.g. isoWATFLOOD (Stadnyk et al., 2013), Iso-MATSIRO (Yoshimura et al., 2006), etc.

The principal premise of this effort is to contribute to the improvement of water balance simulations by providing an additional means of constraining model calibration and validation processes. This in turn will improve model capabilities to forecast impacts of climate and other changes on freshwater availability and sustainability as well as isotope-based assessment and management of water resources. A proposal needs to address the following: application of isotope-integrated water balance models in small- to medium-sized catchments with some river discharge and lake level data for calibration and validation; compile and/or generate stable isotope data for rivers, groundwater and lakes; having a stable water isotope analysis facility or collaboration with such labs is recommended.

For more information on submission procedure please visit IAEA CRP website

CRP PROPOSAL DEADLINE: 28 February 2018. For further information or questions please contact Mr Dagnachew Belachew

Isotope Hydrology

Books and Publications

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IAEA-Tecdoc No. 1723

The IAEA Technical documents summarizing results of Coordinated Research Projects and technical cooperation projects involving the use of isotope techniques in hydrology.

Find all technical document publications in PDF.

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Proceedings from conferences on isotope hydrology, water resources, and environmental change — including oral and poster presentations — dating back to 1963.
Find all symposium
publications in PDF.

STI/PUB/1580(ISBN:978-92-0-135610-9)529 pp.
205 figures;90.00 Euro;

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Handbooks in isotope hydrology and specialized publications on concrete hydrological applications of isotope techniques dating from the 1970s until today.

Find all monograph publications in PDF.

Morocco Atlas

Atlas of Isotope Hydrology

The sustainablity of groundwater resources for drinking water supplies, agriculture, and industry is a prime concern in countries dominated by arid and semi-arid climates such as Morocco. Full text

STI/PUB/1480, 2010, ISBN 978-92-0-111010-7,


Atlas of Isotope Hydrology
The Americas

It was completed in 2009, and it focuses on about
19 000 isotope records from 150 projects in 23 IAEA Member States in the Americas where environmental isotopes were used to assess water resources between 1968 and 2008. Full text

STI/PUB/1423, 2009, ISBN 978-92-0-110009-2,
English. 110.00 Euro.

Asia and the Pacific

Atlas of Isotope Hydrology
Asia and the Pacific

It was released in 2008, and focuses on about 105 projects in 16 Member States carried out between 1973 and 2007, and includes maps, statistics and data plots created from nearly 16 000 isotope records. Full text

STI/PUB/1364, 2008, ISBN 978-92-0-111008-4,
English. 110.00 Euro.


Atlas of Isotope Hydrology

It was the first atlas made, and was released in 2007. It involved the gathering of nearly 10 500 isotope records from about 80 IAEA projects in 26 African countries from 1973 to 2007. Groundwater provides nearly 2/3 of drinking water on the continent. Full text

STI/PUB/1302, 2007, ISBN 978-92-0-107207-8,
English. 110.00 Euro.

Water Environment News

Water & Environment Newsletter

The Isotope Hydrology newsletter - produced twice a year- contains the latest information as well as project insights. The hard copy is for distribution to individuals and institutions in IAEA Member States free of charge upon request, subject to availability.

All of the published issues of the newsletter are available here on-line in PDF format.

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Global Network of Isotope in Precipitation

This joint IAEA/WMO programme – monitoring isotopes in precipitation for the past 50 years – provides information for hydrological and other applications.

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Climate Change and the Atom

Developing the right response to climate change requires that we understand the science behind it. Isotopes in marine sediments, ice cores and other paleoclimatic archives can help reconstruct the
world´s climate history, including impact on the hydrological cycle.

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Water Resources Programme Leaflet

This Leaflet explains ‘Solutions Through Science’ and how this motto is applied by the Water Resources Programme.

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Water Resources Programme Brochure

The IAEA has been a pioneer in developing isotope hydrology as a powerful and effective scientific approach. Find out how the programme supports Member States in water resources management.

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Responsible/Contact: Isotope Hydrology Section | Last update: 02 May 2018