Extreme deuterium enrichment in stratospheric hydrogen and the global atmospheric budget of H2

Thom Rahn, John M. Eller, Kristie A. Boering, Paul O. Wennberg, Michael C. McCarthy, Stanley Tyler, Sue Schauffler, Stephen Oonnelly, Elliot Atlas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

71 Scopus citations

Abstract

Molecular hydrogen (H2) is the second most abundant trace gas in the atmosphere after methane (CH4). In the troposphere, the D/H ratio of H2 is enriched by 120‰ relative to the world's oceans. This cannot be explained by the sources of H2 for which the D/H ratio has been measured to date (for example, fossil fuels and biomass burning). But the isotopic composition of H2 from its single largest source - the photochemical oxidation of methane - has yet to be determined. Here we show that the D/H ratio of stratospheric H2 develops enrichments greater than 440‰, the most extreme D/H enrichment observed in a terrestrial material. We estimate the D/H ratio of H2 produced from CH4 in the stratosphere, where production is isolated from the influences of non-photochemical sources and sinks, showing that the chain of reactions producing H2 from CH4 concentrates D in the product H2. This enrichment, which we estimate is similar on a global average in the troposphere, contributes substantially to the D/H ratio of tropospheric H2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)918-921
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume424
Issue number6951
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 21 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Extreme deuterium enrichment in stratospheric hydrogen and the global atmospheric budget of H<sub>2</sub>'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Rahn, T., Eller, J. M., Boering, K. A., Wennberg, P. O., McCarthy, M. C., Tyler, S., Schauffler, S., Oonnelly, S., & Atlas, E. (2003). Extreme deuterium enrichment in stratospheric hydrogen and the global atmospheric budget of H2. Nature, 424(6951), 918-921. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature01917