Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Better measurements reveal seasonal changes in sulfur

10.10.2005


Researchers from the University of Maryland (UMD) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a new and improved technique for the simultaneous measurement of sulfur isotopic ratios and concentrations of atmospheric sulfate using snow samples from Greenland and Kyrgyzstan.


Aerial view of the Greenland coast. Credit: NASA-JSC-ES&IA



Sulfur plays an important role in the Earth’s climate. Sulfate particles in the atmosphere scatter and absorb sunlight, provide "seeds" for cloud formation, and affect the reflectivity and radiance of clouds, and thus the temperatures at the Earth’s surface. Atmospheric sulfate comes from natural sources, including oceans and volcanoes, but a large fraction comes from the burning of fossil fuels. Researchers can distinguish between various natural and anthropogenic sources in snow by measuring sulfur isotopes--forms of the element with different numbers of neutrons.

To study how these particulates have changed over time, scientists dig holes in snow that provide an archive of atmospheric particles deposited on the Earth’s surface. The standard analysis technique, gas-source isotope ratio mass spectroscopy (GIRMS), requires relatively large samples--up to four kilograms (about 9 pounds) of snow and ice, but the cycling of sulfur in the atmosphere is dynamic and variable, so samples this large blur seasonal changes.


To solve this problem, the UMD/NIST team developed a new analytical tool based on thermal ionization mass spectrometry (TIMS), which requires much smaller samples. The researchers used an advanced calibration technique known as double isotopic spiking to correct measurement drift and obtain isotope ratio measurements comparable to or better than GIRMS. The smaller snow samples required for TIMS make it possible to distinguish seasonal changes in sulfur particulate composition. The technique also can be used for making highly precise and accurate measurements of sulfur in low-sulfur fossil fuels, and similar applications.

Michael Baum | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nist.gov

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute

nachricht Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores

07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

Sea ice hit record lows in November

07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

New material could lead to erasable and rewriteable optical chips

07.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>