Stable Isotope and Radiocarbon Labs

The Stable Isotope Lab (SIL) measures environmental stable isotopes of Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H), and Oxygen (O) in air flask samples. The Radiocarbon Lab measures the radioactive carbon isotope 14C. For information on isotopes check out The Technical Details: Chemistry or Other Isotopes in the Atmosphere: Their Individual Stories, and for information on how NOAA uses isotopes as fingerprints to determine where CO2 came from, check out Fingerprints of Emissions and the Carbon Cycle: Stable and Radiocarbon Isotopes of Carbon Dioxide.

The Stable Isotope and Radiocarbon lab is run by the Institute of Arctic & Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado at Boulder. They work with the Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Gases (CCGG) group at NOAA's Earth Systems Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder, CO to measure these isotopes of Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen using sophisticated and specialized equipment designed for isotopic measurements. Flasks from all over the CCGG Cooperative Air Sampling Network are sent here to be analyzed, but not every air sample requires isotopic analysis.

The following links describes what goes on in the Stable Isotope and Radiocarbon Labs, written by former Ernest F. Hollings Scholar Lauren Shoemaker:

Stable Isotope Lab

Radiocarbon Lab