Editors’ Series: Environmental Analysis Using Ion Chromatography Coupled with ICP-MS, with Examples from Climate Change Studies

This event will take place on October 17, 2013 at 11:00 AM EDT.

Ice cores drilled and retrieved from Greenland and Antarctica can inform us about climate and environmental conditions of the past, from seasonal to multi-millennial timescales. Whilst gas phase measurements of bubbles trapped inside the ice core can show us the atmospheric composition of the air in the past, the chemical impurities in the ice itself also yields information that reveal the sea ice proximity, air mass sources, precipitation patterns, and climate record of the drilling site region. Continuous flow analysis allows the determination of the concentration of various impurities in the melt-water at highly sensitive (sub ppb) levels, whilst maintaining the chronology of the precipitation sample using very narrow bore tubes and small sample volumes.

Inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) provides the elemental analysis of sea ice indicators such as Mg, Na, Cl, and Mg. An indication of dustiness and hence air mass source region is provided by Al. Small, atmospherically relevant molecules such as H2O2 and NH4+ are measured by spectrofluorometry and UV absorbance. The major anions (including F-, Cl-, SO42-) are measured using dual-channel fast ion chromatography (FIC) running in tandem to improve sample efficiency. The practicalities of using this suite of instruments coupled to a custom-built melt-head sampler for analyzing the precious ice samples will be discussed. Certain trace elements such as sulfur remain a challenge and so sulfate measurements are made using FIC, along with volcanic emissions and sea ice indicators.

This web seminar will introduce the field of ice core research and will focus on the technical aspects of the chemical analysis with a particular emphasis on fast ion chromatography measurements of methane sulfonate, one of the more promising indicators of sea ice extent near the drill site. Future ice core measurements will allow us to understand the detailed climate evolution of highly sensitive and globally important regions such as the Antarctic Peninsula.


Laura Bush

Editorial Director


Dr. Ailsa K. Benton

Ice Core Analytical Scientist
Chemistry and Past Climate Programme
British Antarctic Survey

This is a FREE streaming audio Webcast and does not require a phone line. If you have any questions regarding this Webcast, please contact Kristen Farrell, kfarrell@advanstar.com.

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