Extraction of Dissolved Organic Carbon from Glacier Ice for Radiocarbon Analysis

Fang, L; Schindler, J; Jenk, T M; Uglietti, Chiara; Szidat, Sönke; Schwikowski, Margit (2019). Extraction of Dissolved Organic Carbon from Glacier Ice for Radiocarbon Analysis. Radiocarbon, 61(03), pp. 681-694. Arizona Board of Regents, University of Arizona 10.1017/RDC.2019.36

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Alpine glaciers are valuable archives for the reconstruction of human impact on the environment. Besides dating purposes, measurement of radiocarbon (14C) content provides a powerful tool for long-term source apportionment studies on the carbonaceous aerosols incorporated in ice cores. In this work, we present an extraction system for 14C analyses of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in ice cores. The setup can process ice samples of up to 350 g mass and offers ultra-clean working conditions for all extraction steps. A photo-oxidation method is applied by means of external UV irradiation of the sample. For an irradiation time of 30 min with catalyzation by addition of Fe2+ and H2O2, we achieve an efficiency of 96 ± 6% on average. Inert gas working conditions and stringent decontamination procedures enable a low overall blank of 1.9 ± 1.6 μg C with a F14C value of 0.68 ± 0.13. This makes it possible to analyze the DOC in ice samples with a carbon content of as low as 25 μg C kg−1 ice. For a first validation, the new method was applied to ice core samples from the Swiss Alps. The average DOC concentration and F14C values for the Fiescherhorn ice core samples show good agreement with previously reported data for the investigated period of 1925–1936 AD.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences (DCBP)

UniBE Contributor:

Uglietti, Chiara, Szidat, Sönke, Schwikowski, Margit


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 540 Chemistry




Arizona Board of Regents, University of Arizona




Sönke Szidat

Date Deposited:

16 Jul 2019 15:10

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:28

Publisher DOI:






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