Carbon Isotopes in the Ocean: Ensuring High-Quality Results Workshop

Carbon Isotopes in the Ocean: Ensuring High-Quality Results

Isotopic measurements of DIC are contributing to our understanding of biogeochemical and paleoceanographic processes. Until recently, only a few laboratories had the ability to make the precise isotope measurements necessary for studying ocean circulation and the uptake of anthropogenic carbon. At present, there are no recognized standards or reference materials for carbon isotopes in seawater.

This new activity sponsored by OCB aims to define methods of best practice for the measurement of DI13C and DI14C with the goal of guaranteeing data comparability of all measurements across laboratories and over time. We will assemble researchers from laboratories making DI13C and/or DI14C measurements to discuss the different methods in use, recommend best practice protocols, and decide on the best source of reference materials.

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Dates: November 1-3, 2021 (virtual)  NEW DATES

Read the full proposal

Draft Agenda

Day 1 (November 1) - DI13C and DI14C methods—sampling, extraction, and analysis

Day 2 (November 2) - Interlaboratory comparisons, historical and proposed

Day 3 (November 3) - Working standards, interlaboratory exchanges, certified reference materials (CRMs)


An important part of this meeting will be the production of documents summarizing the group recommendations. Recommendations will address proper sampling protocols, storage procedures, appropriate secondary standards, standard reporting procedures, and other issues brought up at the meeting. Our intention is to provide GO-SHIP and the international community with a “Best Practices” protocol detailing the best ways to handle DI13C and DI14C samples from shipboard to reporting/publication as well as to publish articles in AGU Eos and TOS Oceanography. We plan to present the findings at OCB2022 and at Ocean Sciences 2022. We view this meeting as the start of a process to devise  and test standard reference materials and protocols for the ocean sciences isotope community. Follow-up will include calls to prepare and standardize reference materials, as well as conduct round-robin trials to assess the performance of laboratories making isotopic measurements.

Workshop Planning Committee

Ann McNichol (WHOI)

Roberta Hansman (WHOI/NOSAMS)

Robert Key (Princeton Univ)

Rolf Sonnerup (Univ Washington)