High-resolution delta13C measurements on ancient air extracted from less than 10 cm3 of ice

M. C. LEUENBERGER, M. EYER, P. NYFELER, B. STAUFFER, T. F. STOCKER
2003 Tellus: Series B, Chemical and Physical Meteorology  
A new method for δ 13 C analysis of very small air amounts of less than 0.5 cm 3 STP was developed. This corresponds to less than 10 g of ice. It is based on the needle-crasher technique, which is routinely used for CO 2 concentration measurements by infrared laser absorption. The extracted air is slowly expanded into a large volume through a water trap held at −70 • C where the pressure is measured. This sampled air is then carried by a high helium flux through a preconcentration system to
more » ... ation system to separate CO 2 cryogenically from the air. The small CO 2 amount is then released into a low helium stream which forces the CO 2 via an open split device to a mass spectrometer. The overall precision, based on replicates of standard air without crushing, is significantly better than 0.1‰ for a single analysis, and is further improved by a triplicate measurement of the same sample through a specially designed gas splitter. Performing δ 13 C measurements on ice air through the whole system, we reach a reproducibility of 0.12‰. Additional information is obtained through amplitude vs. pressure ratio determination, which results in a good control of the CO 2 concentration (1 ppm precision for 1σ ). The new method allows us to produce highly resolved records of atmospheric δ 13 C from air enclosed in ice, which is required to better understand the evolution and the temporal variability of the global carbon cycle.
doi:10.1034/j.1600-0889.2003.01463.x fatcat:kkytfa5ehjdb5bm6vcgjzjbh5a