Nitrate isotopes (δ¹⁵N, δ⁸O) in precipitation: Best practices from an international coordinated research project

Esquivel-Hernández, G
Matiatos, I
Sánchez-Murillo, R
Vystavna, Y
Balestrini, R
Wells, Naomi
Monteiro, LR
Chantara, S
Walters, W
Wassenaar, LI
Journal Article
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::3499 Other chemical sciences
Stable isotope ratios of nitrogen and oxygen (¹⁵N/¹⁴N and ¹⁸O/¹⁶O) of nitrate (NO₃‾) are excellent tracers for developing systematic understanding of sources, conversions, and deposition of reactive atmospheric nitrogen (Nr) in the environment. Despite recent analytical advances, standardized sampling of NO₃‾) isotopes in precipitation is still lacking. To advance atmospheric studies on Nr species, we propose best-practice guidelines for accurate and precise sampling and analysis of NO₃‾ isotopes in precipitation based on the experience obtained from an international research project coordinated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The precipitation sampling and preservation strategies yielded a good agreement between the NO₃‾ concentrations measured at the laboratories of 16 countries and at the IAEA. Compared to conventional methods (e.g., bacterial denitrification), we confirmed the accurate performance of the lower cost Ti(III) reduction method for isotope analyses (¹⁵N and ¹⁸O) of NO₃‾ in precipitation samples. These isotopic data depict different origins and oxidation pathways of inorganic nitrogen. This work emphasized the capability of NO₃‾ isotopes to assess the origin and atmospheric oxidation of Nr and outlined a pathway to improve laboratory capability and expertise at a global scale. The incorporation of other isotopes like ¹⁷O in Nr is recommended in future studies.
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