Seasonal and diurnal variations of 13C18O16O in air: Initial observations from Pasadena, CA

Hagit P. Affek*, Xiaomei Xu, John M. Eiler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The budget of atmospheric CO2 is widely studied using records of temporal and spatial variations of concentrations, δ13C and δ18O values. However, the number and diversity of sources and sinks prevents these alone from fully constraining the budget. Molecules containing two rare isotopes can serve as additional tracers and potentially provide additional, independent, constraints. We present data documenting seasonal and diurnal variations of CO2 having a mass of 47 u (mostly 13C18O16O) in air from Pasadena, CA. We report these data using the 'mass 47 anomaly' (Δ47), which is defined as the deviation of R47(=[47]/[44]) from that expected for a random distribution of isotopologues. Between February 2004 and December 2005, Δ47 showed a seasonal pattern that differed significantly from that expected based on thermodynamic equilibrium. During the year 2004 Δ47 was 0.76‰ in winter, increased to 0.87‰ in summer and gradually decreased through the autumn to 0.81‰ at the end of the year. Δ47 then increased again through the winter and spring of 2005 to 0.97‰ in summer followed by a decrease to 0.88‰ at the end of 2005. The seasonal variations cannot be accounted for by variations in the relative contribution of local fossil fuel sources. Diurnal variations were the combined effect of both fuel combustion and respiration having Δ47 values of 0.41‰ and ca. 0.77‰, respectively. The seasonal cycle may be interpreted as a competition between low Δ47 values in respiration and higher Δ47 values resulting from CO2-water exchange in photosynthesis.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5033-5043
Number of pages11
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Eric Klinkner of the Pasadena Water and Power for local electricity production estimates, Michael Bender for the Cape Grim and Barrow air samples and constructive comments as well as Sally Newman and Lisa Welp for helpful discussion. We thank M. Bar-Mathews and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. This work is supported by Grants NSF-EAR-0345905, the GPS Davidow Endowment Fund and the David and Lucile Packard Fund.


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