Continuous flow analysis of total organic carbon in polar ice cores

Federer, Urs; Kaufmann, Patrik R.; Hutterli, Manuel A.; Schüpbach, Simon; Stocker, Thomas F. (2008). Continuous flow analysis of total organic carbon in polar ice cores. Environmental science & technology, 42(21), pp. 8039-8043. Washington, D.C.: ACS Publications 10.1021/es801244e

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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 the CO2 produced during 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.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute

UniBE Contributor:

Federer, Urs, Kaufmann, Patrik, Schüpbach, Simon, Stocker, Thomas




ACS Publications




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:23

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:25

Publisher DOI:




URI: (FactScience: 207476)

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