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Setting a limit on anthropogenic sources of atmospheric 81Kr through Atom Trap Trace Analysis

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Zappala J. C., Bailey K., Jiang W., Micklich B., Mueller P., O’Connor T. P., Purtschert R.,
Project Klima- und Umweltphysik: Isotope im Erdklimasystem (icoCEP)
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Chemical Geology
Volume (Issue) 453
Page(s) 66 - 71
Title of proceedings Chemical Geology


We place a 2.5% limit on the anthropogenic contribution to the modern abundance of 81Kr/Kr in the atmosphere at the 90% confidence level. Due to its simple production and transport in the terrestrial environment, 81Kr (half-life = 230,000 years) is an ideal tracer for old water and ice with mean residence times in the range of 105–106 years. In recent years, 81Kr-dating has been made available to the earth science community thanks to the development of Atom Trap Trace Analysis (ATTA), a laser-based atom counting technique. Further upgrades and improvements to the ATTA technique now allow us to demonstrate 81Kr/Kr measurements with relative uncertainties of 1% and place this new limit on anthropogenic 81Kr. As a result of this limit, we have removed a potential systematic constraint for 81Kr-dating.