Snow isotope diffusion rates measured in a laboratory experiment

L. G. Van der Wel*, V. Gkinis, V. A. Pohjola, H. A. J. Meijer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The diffusion of stable water isotopes in snow was measured in two controlled laboratory experiments. Two batches of snow of different isotopic composition were stacked alternately with varying layer thicknesses. The stack was stored in a freezer room at constant temperature for several months, and sampled at regular intervals to analyse the diffusion. Measured isotope profiles were fitted to a theoretical model with diffusion length as the fit parameter. In the first experiment, we observed a difference in diffusion rates between layers of different thicknesses, which is likely caused by layers of snow not being in proper contact with each other. In the second experiment we found very good agreement between measurements and model results. The measured diffusivity is compared with theory, in which we mainly focus on the temperature dependence of the ice-vapour fractionation factors. This temperature dependence is slightly different for the different isotopes of water, which leads to a difference in diffusion rates. We illustrate how our set-up can be used to measure the ratio between ice-vapour fractionation factors of oxygen-18 and deuterium, which determine the relation between the difference in diffusion and the firn temperature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-38
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Volume57
Issue number201
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • CENTRAL GREENLAND
  • STABLE-ISOTOPES
  • ICE CORES
  • WATER
  • FIRN
  • SUBLIMATION
  • EXCHANGE
  • VAPOR

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