28 Oct 2022
 | 28 Oct 2022

Lessons from and best practices for the deployment of the Soil Water Isotope Storage System

Rachel Elizabeth Havranek, Kathryn E. Snell, Sebastian H. Kopf, Brett Davidheiser-Kroll, Valerie Morris, and Bruce Vaughn

Abstract. Soil water isotope datasets are useful for understanding connections between the hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, and geosphere. However, they have been underproduced because of technical challenges associated with collecting those datasets. Here, we present the full testing and automation of the Soil Water Isotope Storage System (SWISS). The unique innovation of the SWISS is that we are able to automatically collect water vapor from the critical zone at a regular time interval and then store that water vapor until it can be measured back in a laboratory setting. Through a series of quality assurance and quality control tests, we rigorously tested that the SWISS is resistant to both atmospheric intrusion and leaking in both laboratory and field settings. We assessed the accuracy and precision of the SWISS through a series of experiments where water vapor of known composition was introduced into the flasks, stored for 14 days, and then measured. From these experiments, after applying an offset correction, we assess the precision of the SWISS at 0.9 ‰ and 3.7 ‰ for δ18O and δ2H, respectively. We deployed three SWISS units to three different field sites to demonstrate that the SWISS stores water vapor reliably enough that we are able to differentiate dynamics both between the sites as well within a single soil column. Overall, we demonstrate that the SWISS is able to faithfully retain the stable isotope composition of soil water vapor for long enough to allow researchers to address a wide range of ecohydrologic questions.

Rachel Elizabeth Havranek et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1170', Stefan Seeger, 21 Dec 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Rachel Havranek, 22 Feb 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1170', Anonymous Referee #2, 24 Dec 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Rachel Havranek, 22 Feb 2023

Rachel Elizabeth Havranek et al.

Rachel Elizabeth Havranek et al.


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Short summary
We present an automated, field ready system that collects soil water vapor for stable isotope analysis. This system can be used to determine soil water evolution through time, which is helpful for understanding crop water use, water vapor fluxes to the atmosphere, and geologic proxy development. Our system can automatically collect soil water vapor, and then store it for up to 30 days, which allows researchers to collect datasets from historically understudied, remote locations.