Continuous flow analysis of total organic carbon in polar ice cores

Ice cores are a widely used archive to reconstruct past changes of the climate system. This is done by measuring the concentration of substances in the ice and in the air of bubbles enclosed in ice. Some species pertaining to the carbon cycle (e.g., CO2, CH4) are routinely measured. However, information about the organic fraction of the impurities in polar ice is still very limited. Therefore, we developed a new method to determine the content of total organic carbon (TOC) in ice cores using a continuous flow analysis (CFA) system. The method is based on photochemical oxidation of TOC and the electrolytic quantification of theCO2 producedduring oxidation. The TOC instrument features a limit of detection of 2 ppbC and a response time of 60 s at a sample flow rate of 0.7 mL/ min and a linear measurement range of 2-4000 ppbC. First measurements on the ice core from Talos Dome, Antarctica, reveal TOC concentrations varying between 80 and 360 ppbC in the 20 m section presented.


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Authors: Federer, Urs, Kaufmann, Patrik R., Hutterli, Manuel A., Schüpbach, Simon, Stocker, Thomas F.

1 January, 2008
Environmental Science & Technology / 42
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