Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 10087-10120, 2011
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Temporal and spatial variability of the stable isotopic composition of atmospheric molecular hydrogen: observations at six EUROHYDROS stations
A. M. Batenburg1, S. Walter1, G. Pieterse1, I. Levin2, M. Schmidt3, A. Jordan4, S. Hammer2, C. Yver3, and T. Röckmann1
1Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
2Institut für Umweltphysik, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
3Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, Gif sur Yvette, France
4Max Planck Institut für Biogeochemie, Jena, Germany

Abstract. Despite the potential of isotope measurements to improve our understanding of the global atmospheric molecular hydrogen (H2) cycle, few H2 isotope data have been published so far. Now, within the EUROpean network for atmospheric HYDRogen Observations and Studies project (EUROHYDROS), weekly to monthly air samples from six locations in a global sampling network have been analysed for hydrogen mixing ratio (m(H2)) and the stable hydrogen isotopic composition of H2 (δ(D,H2), hereafter referred to as δ(D)). The time series thus obtained now cover one to five years for all stations. This is the largest set of ground station observations of δ(D) so far. Annual average δ(D) values are higher at the Southern Hemisphere (SH) than at the Northern Hemisphere (NH) stations; the maximum is observed at Neumayer (Antarctica), and the minimum at the NH midlatitude or subtropical stations. The maximum seasonal differences in δ(D) range from ≈18‰ at Neumayer to ≈45‰ at Schauinsland (Southern Germany); in general, seasonal variability is largest at the NH stations. The timing of minima and maxima differs per station as well. In Alert (Arctic Canada), the variations in δ(D) and m(H2) can be approximated as simple harmonic functions with a ≈5-month phase shift. This out-of-phase seasonal behaviour of δ(D) and m(H2) can also be detected, but with a ≈6-month phase shift, at Mace Head and Cape Verde. However, no seasonal δ(D) cycle could be observed at Schauinsland, which likely reflects the larger influence of local sources and sinks at this continental station. At the two SH stations, no seasonal cycle could be detected in the δ(D) data. Assuming that the sink processes are the main drivers of the observed seasonality in m(H2) and δ(D) on the NH, the relative seasonal variations can be used to estimate the relative sink strength of the two major sinks, deposition to soils and atmospheric oxidation by the hydroxyl (OH) radical. For the NH coastal and marine stations this analysis shows that the relative contribution of soil uptake to the total sink processes increases with latitude.

Citation: Batenburg, A. M., Walter, S., Pieterse, G., Levin, I., Schmidt, M., Jordan, A., Hammer, S., Yver, C., and Röckmann, T.: Temporal and spatial variability of the stable isotopic composition of atmospheric molecular hydrogen: observations at six EUROHYDROS stations, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 10087-10120, doi:10.5194/acpd-11-10087-2011, 2011.
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