Articles | Volume 3, issue 1
22 Jan 2010
 | 22 Jan 2010

Water vapor δ2H and δ18O measurements using off-axis integrated cavity output spectroscopy

P. Sturm and A. Knohl

Abstract. We present a detailed assessment of a commercially available water vapor isotope analyzer (WVIA, Los Gatos Research, Inc.) for simultaneous in-situ measurements of δ2H and δ18O in water vapor. This method, based on off-axis integrated cavity output spectroscopy, is an alternative to the conventional water trap/isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) techniques. We evaluate the analyzer in terms of precision, memory effects, concentration dependence, temperature sensitivity and long-term stability. A calibration system based on a droplet generator is used to characterize the performance and to calibrate the analyzer. Our results show that the precision at an averaging time of 15 s is 0.16‰ for δ2H and 0.08‰ for δ18O. The isotope ratios are strongly dependent on the water mixing ratio of the air. Taking into account this concentration dependence as well as the temperature sensitivity of the instrument we obtained a long-term stability of the water isotope measurements of 0.38‰ for δ2H and 0.25‰ for δ18O. The accuracy of the WVIA was further assessed by comparative measurements using IRMS and a dew point generator indicating a linear response in isotopic composition and H2O concentrations. The WVIA combined with a calibration system provides accurate high resolution water vapor isotope measurements and opens new possibilities for hydrological and ecological applications.