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No evidence for change of the atmospheric helium isotope composition since 1978 from re-analysis of the Cape Grim Air Archive

Abstract : The helium isotope composition of air might have changed since the industrial revolution due to the release of 4He-rich crustal helium during exploitation of fossil fuels. Thereby, variation of the atmospheric helium isotope ratio (3He/4He) has been proposed as a possible new atmospheric tracer of industrial activity. However, the magnitude of such change is debated, with possible values ranging from 0 to about 2/yr(Sano et al., 1989; Hoffmanand Nier, 1993; Pierson-Wickmann et al., 2001;Brennwald et al., 2013;Lupton and Evans, 2013). A new analytical facility for high precision (2, 2σ) analysis of the 3He/4He ratio of air has been developed at CRPG Nancy (France) capable of investigating permil level variations. Previously, Brennwald et al.(2013)analyzed a selection of air samples archived since 1978 at Cape Grim, Tasmania, by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). They reported a mean temporal decrease of the 3He/4He ratio of 0.23–0.30/yr. Re-analysis of aliquots of the same samples using the new high-precision instrument showed no significant temporal decrease of the 3He/4He ratio (0.0095 ±0.033/yr, 2σ) in the time interval 1978–2011. These new data constrain the mean He content of globally produced natural gas to about 0.034% or less, which is about 3×lower than commonly quoted.
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Submitted on : Friday, July 22, 2016 - 11:03:28 AM
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J Mabry, Tf Lan, C Boucher, Christine Boucher, P.G. Burnard, et al.. No evidence for change of the atmospheric helium isotope composition since 1978 from re-analysis of the Cape Grim Air Archive. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Elsevier, 2015, ⟨10.1016/j.epsl.2015.07.035⟩. ⟨hal-01346175⟩

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