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Climate Change

Climate change is one of the greatest threats to human civilisation, but determining future climate scenarios can only be built on the foundation of what we know has happened before. From understanding the variability in Earth’s climate and the possible mechanisms which drive global climate cycles, scientists have been able to develop highly sophisticated models of our future climate and are delivering crucial information to the public and government about the possible consequences of anthropogenic activity.

Stable isotope analysis works as a virtual paleo-thermometer, allowing readings of past earth temperatures in a variety of materials such as micro-fossils, ice cores and tree rings. By combining this temperature information and extrapolating into the future, we maybe able to avoid the worst outcomes and stable isotope analysis will play a crucial role in helping us do this.

Carbonate Materials

Climate signals are found throughout the seabed in the form of sedimented carbonate materials from ancient biota. The 13C and 18O isotope ratios of these materials a directly related to the ocean temperature at the time of their existence. Our Dual Inlet inlet system equipped the MultiCarb is capable of the highest precision 13C and 18O analysis of extremely small samples, as well as offering exciting new "clumped isotope" analysis.

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Ice core water analysis

The isotopic ratio of precipitation is fundamentally dependent on the temperature of the oceans it evaporates from. Ice cores from the arctic and antarctic polar regions have been recording the isotope variation for millennia making it possible to determine the temperature at the time that the ice was laid down. Our AquaPrep is able to perform the highest 18O and 2H analysis compared to any other technique, reducing uncertainty in your temperature proxy calculations.

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Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are major drivers for climate change. Decoupling the anthropogenic contribution of these gases to the atmosphere from those that are the result of natural processes is vital if we are to understand the mechanisms for climate change. Using iso FLOW, you can investigate the isotopic ratios of the main greenhouse gases CO2, N2O and CH4 in atmospheric gas samples to help develop strategies to cope with climate change.

Climate change publications using our instruments

Our customers use our instruments to do some amazing research in the climate change application field. To show you how they perform their research and how they use our IRMS instruments, we have collected a range of peer-reviewed publications which cite our products. You can find the citations below and then follow the links to the publishing journal should you wish to download the publication.

If you would like to investigate our available citations in more detail, or email the citation list to yourself or your colleagues then take a look at our full citation database.

115 results:

Oxygen isotopes in tree rings show good coherence between species and sites in Bolivia
Global and Planetary Change (2015)
Jessica C.A. Baker, Sarah F.P. Hunt, Santiago J. Clerici, Robert J. Newton, Simon H. Bottrell, Melanie J. Leng, Timothy H.E. Heaton, Gerhard Helle, Jaime Argollo, Manuel Gloor, Roel J.W. Brienen

A tree ring oxygen isotope (δ18OTR) chronology developed from one species (Cedrela odorata) growing in a single site has been shown to be a sensitive proxy for rainfall over the Amazon Basin, thus allowing reconstructions of precipitation in a region where meteorological records are short and scarce. Although these results suggest that there should be large-scale (>100km) spatial coherence of δ18OTR records in the Amazon, this has not been tested. Furthermore, it is of interest to investigate whether other, possibly longer-lived, species similarly record interannual variation of Amazon precipitation, and can be used to develop climate sensitive isotope chronologies. In this study, we measured δ18O in tree rings from seven lowland and one highland tree species from Bolivia. We found that cross-dating with δ18OTR gave more accurate tree ring dates than using ring width. Our “isotope cross-dating approach” is confirmed with radiocarbon “bomb-peak” dates, and has the potential to greatly facilitate development of δ18OTR records in the tropics, identify dating errors, and check annual ring formation in tropical trees. Six of the seven lowland species correlated significantly with C. odorata, showing that variation in δ18OTR has a coherent imprint across very different species, most likely arising from a dominant influence of source water δ18O on δ18OTR. In addition we show that δ18OTR series cohere over large distances, within and between species. Comparison of two C. odorata δ18OTR chronologies from sites several hundreds of kilometres apart showed a very strong correlation (r=0.80, p<0.001, 1901–2001), and a significant (but weaker) relationship was found between lowland C. odorata trees and a Polylepis tarapacana tree growing in the distant Altiplano (r=0.39, p<0.01, 1931–2001). This large-scale coherence of δ18OTR records is probably triggered by a strong spatial coherence in precipitation δ18O due to large-scale controls. These results highlight the strength of δ18OTR as a precipitation proxy, and open the way for temporal and spatial expansion of precipitation reconstructions in South America.

Geochemical Evidence of the Seasonality, Affinity and Pigmenation of Solenopora jurassica.
PloS one (2015)
Holly E Barden, Julia Behnsen, Uwe Bergmann, Melanie J Leng, Phillip L Manning, Philip J Withers, Roy A Wogelius, Bart E van Dongen

Solenopora jurassica is a fossil calcareous alga that functioned as an important reef-building organism during the Palaeozoic. It is of significant palaeobiological interest due to its distinctive but poorly understood pink and white banding. Though widely accepted as an alga there is still debate over its taxonomic affinity, with recent work arguing that it should be reclassified as a chaetetid sponge. The banding is thought to be seasonal, but there is no conclusive evidence for this. Other recent work has, however demonstrated the presence of a unique organic boron-containing pink/red pigment in the pink bands of S. jurassica. We present new geochemical evidence concerning the seasonality and pigmentation of S. jurassica. Seasonal growth cycles are demonstrated by X-ray radiography, which shows differences in calcite density, and by varying δ13C composition of the bands. Temperature variation in the bands is difficult to constrain accurately due to conflicting patterns arising from Mg/Ca molar ratios and δ18O data. Fluctuating chlorine levels indicate increased salinity in the white bands, when combined with the isotope data this suggests more suggestive of marine conditions during formation of the white band and a greater freshwater component (lower chlorinity) during pink band precipitation (δ18O). Increased photosynthesis is inferred within the pink bands in comparison to the white, based on δ13C. Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (Py-GCMS) and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) show the presence of tetramethyl pyrrole, protein moieties and carboxylic acid groups, suggestive of the presence of the red algal pigment phycoerythrin. This is consistent with the pink colour of S. jurassica. As phycoerythrin is only known to occur in algae and cyanobacteria, and no biomarker evidence of bacteria or sponges was detected we conclude S. jurassica is most likely an alga. Pigment analysis may be a reliable classification method for fossil algae.

Biochar suppresses N2O emissions while maintaining N availability in a sandy loam soil
Soil Biology and Biochemistry (2015)
Sean D.C. Case, Niall P. McNamara, David S. Reay, Andy W. Stott, Helen K. Grant, Jeanette Whitaker

Nitrous oxide (N2O) from agricultural soil is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Biochar amendment can contribute to climate change mitigation by suppressing emissions of N2O from soil, although the mechanisms underlying this effect are poorly understood. We investigated the effect of biochar on soil N2O emissions and N cycling processes by quantifying soil N immobilisation, denitrifi- cation, nitrification and mineralisation rates using 15N pool dilution techniques and the FLUAZ numerical calculation model. We then examined whether biochar amendment affected N2O emissions and the availability and transformations of N in soils. Our results show that biochar suppressed cumulative soil N2O production by 91% in near-saturated, fertilised soils. Cumulative denitrification was reduced by 37%, which accounted for 85e95 % of soil N2O emissions. We also found that physical/chemical and biological ammonium (NH4 þ) immobilisation increased with biochar amendment but that nitrate (NO3 ?) immobilisation decreased.We concluded that this immobilisation was insignificant compared to total soil inorganic N content. In contrast, soil N mineralisation significantly increased by 269% and nitrification by 34% in biochar-amended soil. These findings demonstrate that biochar amendment did not limit inorganic N availability to nitrifiers and denitrifiers, therefore limitations in soil NH4 þ and NO3 ? supply cannot explain the suppression of N2O emissions. These results support the concept that biochar application to soil could significantly mitigate agricultural N2O emissions through altering N transformations, and underpin efforts to develop climate- friendly agricultural management techniques.
Tags: nitrogen , soil , clim , gashead

An analytical system for the measurement of stable hydrogen isotopes in ambient volatile organic compounds
Atmospheric Measurement Techniques Discussions (2015)
T. Meisehen, F. Bühler, R. Koppmann, M. Krebsbach

Stable isotope measurements in atmospheric volatile organic compounds (VOC) are an excellent tool to analyse chemical and dynamical processes in the atmosphere. While up to now isotope studies of VOC in ambient air mainly focus on carbon isotopes, we herein present a new measurement system to investigate hydrogen isotope ratios in atmospheric VOC. This system consisting of a GC-P-IRMS (Gas Chromatography Pyrolysis Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer) and a preconcentration system was thoroughly characterised using a working standard. A precision of better than 9 ‰ (in δD) is achieved for n-pentane, 2-methyl-1,3-butadiene (isoprene), n-heptane, 4-methyl-pentane-2-one (4-methyl-2-pentanone), methylbenzene (toluene), n-octane, ethylbenzene, m/p-xylene, and 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene. A comparison with independent measurements via elemental analysis shows an accuracy of better than 9 ‰ for n-pentane, n-heptane, 4-methyl-2-pentanone, toluene, and n-octane. Above a compound specific minimum peak area the obtained δD values are constant within the standard deviations. In addition, a remarkable influence of the pyrolysis process on the isotope ratios is found and discussed. Reliable measurements are only possible if the ceramic tube used for the pyrolysis is sufficiently conditioned, i.e. the inner surface is covered with a carbon layer. It is essential to verify this conditioning regularly and to renew it if required. Furthermore, influences of a necessary H3+ correction and the pyrolysis temperature on the isotope ratios are discussed. Finally, the applicability to measure hydrogen isotope ratios in VOC at ambient levels is demonstrated with measurements of outside air on five different days in February and March 2015. The measured hydrogen isotope ratios range from −136 to −105 ‰ for n-pentane, from −86 to −63 ‰ for toluene, from −39 to −15 ‰ for ethylbenzene, from −99 to −68 ‰ for m/p-xylene, and from −45 to −34 ‰ for o-xylene.
Tags: hydrogen , clim , gaschrom

Holocene Climatic Optimum centennial-scale paleoceanography in the NE Aegean (Mediterranean Sea)
Geo-Marine Letters (2015)
Maria V. Triantaphyllou, Alexandra Gogou, Margarita D. Dimiza, Sofia Kostopoulou, Constantine Parinos, Grigoris Roussakis, Maria Geraga, Ioanna Bouloubassi, Dominik Fleitmann, Vassilis Zervakis, Dimitris Velaoras, Antonia Diamantopoulou, Angeliki Sampatak

Combined micropaleontological and geochemical analyses of the high-sedimentation gravity core M-4G provided new centennial-scale paleoceanographic data for sapropel S1 deposition in the NE Aegean Sea during the Holocene Climatic Optimum. Sapropel layer S1a (10.2–8.0 ka) was deposited in dysoxic to oxic bottom waters characterized by a high abundance of benthic foraminiferal species tolerating surface sediment and/or pore water oxygen depletion (e.g., Chilostomella mediterranensis, Globobulimina affinis), and the presence of Uvigerina mediterranea, which thrives in oxic mesotrophic-eutrophic environments. Preservation of organic matter (OM) is inferred based on high organic carbon as well as loliolide and isololiolide contents, while the biomarker record and the abundances of eutrophic planktonic foraminifera document enhanced productivity. High inputs of terrigenous OM are attributed to north Aegean borderland riverine inputs. Both alkenone-based sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and δO18 G. bulloides records indicate cooling at 8.2 ka (S1a) and ~7.8 ka (S1 interruption). Sapropelic layer S1b (7.7–6.4 ka) is characterized by rather oxic conditions; abundances of foraminiferal species tolerant to oxygen depletion are very low compared with the U. mediterranea rise. Strongly fluctuating SSTs demonstrate repeated cooling and associated dense water formation, with a major event at 7.4 ka followed by cold spells at 7.0, 6.8, and 6.5 ka. The prominent rise of the carbon preference index within the S1b layer indicates the delivery of less degraded terrestrial OM. The increase of algal biomarkers, labile OM-feeding foraminifera and eutrophic planktonic species pinpoints an enhanced in situ marine productivity, promoted by more efficient vertical convection due to repeated cold events. The associated contributions of labile marine OM along with fresher terrestrial OM inputs after ~7.7 ka imply sources alternative/additional to the north Aegean riverine borderland sources for the influx of organic matter in the south Limnos Basin, plausibly related to the inflow of highly productive Marmara/Black Sea waters.
Tags: carbon , oxygen , ocea , clim , mulitcarb

Net soil–atmosphere fluxes mask patterns in gross production and consumption of nitrous oxide and methane in a managed ecosystem
Biogeosciences Discussions (2015)
W. H. Yang, W. L. Silver

Nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) are potent greenhouse gases that are both produced and consumed in soil. Production and consumption of these gases are driven by different processes, making it difficult to infer their controls when measuring only net fluxes. We used the trace gas pool dilution technique to simultaneously measure gross fluxes of N2O and CH4 throughout the growing season in a cornfield in northern California, USA. Net N2O fluxes ranged from 0–4.5 mg N m−2 d−1 with the N2O yield averaging 0.68 ± 0.02. Gross N2O production was best predicted by net nitrogen (N) mineralization, soil moisture, and soil temperature (R2 = 0.60, n = 39, p 2O reduction was correlated with the combination of gross N2O production rates, net N mineralization rates, and CO2 emissions (R2 = 0.74, n = 39, p 4 fluxes averaged −0.03 ± 0.02 mg C m−2 d−1. The methanogenic fraction of carbon mineralization ranged from 0 to 0.27 % and explained 40 % of the variability in gross CH4 production rates (n = 37, p 4 oxidation exhibited a strong positive relationship with gross CH4 production rates (R2 = 0.67, n = 37, p −2 d−1. Our study is the first to demonstrate the simultaneous in situ measurement of gross N2O and CH4 fluxes, and results highlight that net soil–atmosphere fluxes can mask significant gross production and consumption of these trace gases.
Tags: nitrogen , oxygen , clim , gashead

Orbital calibration of the late Campanian carbon isotope event in the North Sea
Journal of the Geological Society (2015)
Anastasios Perdiou, Nicolas Thibault, Kresten Anderskouv, Frans van Buchem, Govert Joan Arie Buijs, Christian J. Bjerrum

A new record of carbon isotopes, nannofossil biostratigraphy, gamma-ray and Fe content variations is presented for the upper Campanian of the Adda-3 core, Danish Central Graben, North Sea. The studied interval provides a revision of previously assigned late Coniacian to early Santonian ages. New biostratigraphic data indicate a late Campanian age for the 60 m thick studied interval. The Late Campanian Event (LCE) is well recorded by a 1.5{per thousand} negative excursion in the bulk {delta}13C, along with two stepwise pre-excursion negative shifts (defining the pre-LCE). The amplitude of the LCE appears higher in the North Sea than in other areas as seen from the correlation to Germany, the UK and France. This correlation allows identification of a new 0.4{per thousand} negative excursion (defined as the conica event). Fe and gamma-ray variations are used to calibrate the record with cyclostratigraphy. Fourteen 405 kyr cycles identified in the upper Campanian of Adda-3 can be correlated to North Germany. The compilation of previous results from North Germany and correlation to Adda-3 shows that the Boreal upper Campanian spans a total of 17 cycles each of 405 kyr; that is, 6.885 myr. The duration of the LCE is estimated to be c. 1 myr at Adda-3 and in North Germany. Supplementary materialsCalibration of the HH-XRF data is available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.2134362.

Spatial patterns in the oxygen isotope composition of daily rainfall in the British Isles
Climate Dynamics (2015)
Jonathan J. Tyler, Matthew Jones, Carol Arrowsmith, Tim Allott, Melanie J. Leng

Understanding the modern day relationship between climate and the oxygen isotopic composition of precipitation (δ18OP) is crucial for obtaining rigorous palaeoclimate reconstructions from a variety of archives. To date, the majority of empirical studies into the meteorological controls over δ18OP rely upon daily, event scale, or monthly time series from individual locations, resulting in uncertainties concerning the representativeness of statistical models and the mechanisms behind those relationships. Here, we take an alternative approach by analysing daily patterns in δ18OP from multiple stations across the British Isles (n = 10–70 stations). We use these data to examine the spatial and seasonal heterogeneity of regression statistics between δ18OP and common predictors (temperature, precipitation amount and the North Atlantic Oscillation index; NAO). Temperature and NAO are poor predictors of daily δ18OP in the British Isles, exhibiting weak and/or inconsistent effects both spatially and between seasons. By contrast δ18OP and rainfall amount consistently correlate at most locations, and for all months analysed, with spatial and temporal variability in the regression coefficients. The maps also allow comparison with daily synoptic weather types, and suggest characteristic δ18OP patterns, particularly associated with Cylonic Lamb Weather Types. Mapping daily δ18OP across the British Isles therefore provides a more coherent picture of the patterns in δ18OP, which will ultimately lead to a better understanding of the climatic controls. These observations are another step forward towards developing a more detailed, mechanistic framework for interpreting stable isotopes in rainfall as a palaeoclimate and hydrological tracer.
Tags: oxygen , clim , elem , aquap

Gross nitrous oxide production drives net nitrous oxide fluxes across a salt marsh landscape.
Global change biology (2015)
Wendy H Yang, Whendee L Silver

Sea level rise will change inundation regimes in salt marshes, altering redox dynamics that control nitrification-a potential source of the potent greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide (N2 O)-and denitrification, a major nitrogen (N) loss pathway in coastal ecosystems and both a source and sink of N2 O. Measurements of net N2 O fluxes alone yield little insight into the different effects of redox conditions on N2 O production and consumption. We used in situ measurements of gross N2 O fluxes across a salt marsh elevation gradient to determine how soil N2 O emissions in coastal ecosystems may respond to future sea level rise. Soil redox declined as marsh elevation decreased, with lower soil nitrate and higher ferrous iron in the low marsh compared to the mid and high marshes (p < 0.001 for both). In addition, soil oxygen concentrations were lower in the low and mid marshes relative to the high marsh (p < 0.001). Net N2 O fluxes differed significantly among marsh zones (p = 0.009), averaging 9.8 ± 5.4 μg N m(-2) h(-1) , -2.2 ± 0.9 μg N m(-2) h(-1) , and 0.67 ± 0.57 μg N m(-2) h(-1) in the low, mid, and high marshes, respectively. Both net N2 O release and uptake were observed in the low and high marshes, but the mid marsh was consistently a net N2 O sink. Gross N2 O production was highest in the low marsh and lowest in the mid marsh (p = 0.02), whereas gross N2 O consumption did not differ among marsh zones. Thus, variability in gross N2 O production rates drove the differences in net N2 O flux among marsh zones. Our results suggest that future studies should focus on elucidating controls on the processes producing, rather than consuming, N2 O in salt marshes to improve our predictions of changes in net N2 O fluxes caused by future sea level rise. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Tags: nitrogen , oxygen , soil , clim , gashead

Improved oxygen isotope temperature calibrations for cosmopolitan benthic foraminifera
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (2014)
T. M. Marchitto, W. B. Curry, J. Lynch-Stieglitz, S. P. Bryan, K. M. Cobb, D. C. Lund

Despite decades of use as a paleoceanographic proxy, considerable uncertainty still surrounds the temperature dependence of benthic foraminiferal ??18O. Widely applied paleotemperature equations may mix non-equilibrium foraminifera with equilibrium synthetic calcite, resulting in temperature sensitivities that are too large. Warm-water foraminiferal calibrations may give temperature sensitivities that are too small for very cold waters. Here we combine new core top measurements from the Florida Straits and the Arctic Ocean with published data to derive new ??18O:temperature relationships for three groups of benthic foraminifera. We derive a quadratic equation for Cibicidoides and Planulina that agrees well with equilibrium synthetic calcite, and that should be applicable over all oceanographic temperatures. We find that Uvigerina is not at equilibrium and is isotopically heavier than Cibicidoides and Planulina by 0.47???, in contrast to the historically used 0.64???. Hoeglundina elegans is further enriched and appears to be slightly heavier than equilibrium aragonite. Finally we discuss the implications of the Florida Straits observations for the hypothesis that benthic foraminifera precipitate their shells from a pH-dependent mixture of bicarbonate and carbonate ions. ?? 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
Tags: carbon , oxygen , ocea , clim , mulitcarb