A new approach to autonomously determine concentrations of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and its carbon stable isotope ratio (δ 13C–DIC) at high temporal resolution is presented. The simple method requires no customised design. Instead it uses two commercially available instruments currently used in aquatic carbon research. An inorganic carbon analyser utilising non-dispersive infrared detection (NDIR) is coupled to a Cavity Ring-down Spectrometer (CRDS) to determine DIC and δ 13C–DIC based on the liberated CO2 from acidified aliquots of water. Using a small sample volume of 2 mL, the precision and accuracy of the new method was comparable to standard isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) methods. The system achieved a sampling resolution of 16 min, with a DIC precision of ±1.5 to 2 µmol kg−1 and δ 13C–DIC precision of ±0.14 ‰ for concentrations spanning 1000 to 3600 µmol kg−1 . Accuracy of 0.1 ± 0.06 ‰ for δ 13C–DIC based on DIC concentrations ranging from 2000 to 2230 µmol kg−1 was achieved during a laboratory-based algal bloom experiment. The high precision data that can be autonomously obtained by the system should enable complex carbonate system questions to be explored in aquatic sciences using high-temporal-resolution observations.
Call, M, Schulz, KG, Carvalho, MC, Santos, IR & Maher, DT 2017, 'Technical note: coupling infrared gas analysis and cavity ring down spectroscopy for autonomous, high-temporal-resolution measurements of DIC and δ13C–DIC', Biogeosciences, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 1305-1313.