Extreme 13C depletion of CCl2F2 in firn air samples from NEEM, Greenland

A.T. Zuiderweg, R. Holzinger, T. Röckmann

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A series of 12 high volume air samples collected from the S2 firn core during the North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling (NEEM) 2009 campaign have been measured for mixing ratio and stable carbon isotope composition of the chlorofluorocarbon CFC- 12 (CCl2F2). While the mixing ratio measurements compare favorably to other firn air studies, the isotope results show extreme 13C depletion at the deepest measurable depth (65 m), to values lower than 13C=−80‰vs. VPDB (the international stable carbon isotope scale), compared to present day surface tropospheric measurements near −40 ‰. Firn air modeling was used to interpret these measurements. Reconstructed atmospheric time series indicate even larger depletions (to −120‰) near 1950AD, with subsequent rapid enrichment of the atmospheric reservoir of the compound to the present day value. Mass-balance calculations show that this change must have been caused by a large change in the isotopic composition of anthropogenic CFC-12 emissions, probably due to technological changes in the CFC production process over the last 80 yr. Propagating the mass-balance calculations into the future demonstrates that as emissions decrease to zero, isotopic fractionation by the stratospheric sinks will lead to continued 13C enrichment in atmospheric CFC-12.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18499-18530
Number of pages32
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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