28 Oct 2022
28 Oct 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

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

Rachel Elizabeth Havranek1, Kathryn E. Snell1, Sebastian H. Kopf1, Brett Davidheiser-Kroll2, Valerie Morris3, and Bruce Vaughn3 Rachel Elizabeth Havranek et al.
  • 1Geological Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, 80303, USA
  • 2Thermo Fisher Scientific (Bremen) GmbH, Bremen, Germany
  • 3Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, 80303, USA

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: open (until 24 Dec 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Rachel Elizabeth Havranek et al.

Rachel Elizabeth Havranek et al.


Total article views: 153 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total Supplement BibTeX EndNote
103 43 7 153 23 3 4
  • HTML: 103
  • PDF: 43
  • XML: 7
  • Total: 153
  • Supplement: 23
  • BibTeX: 3
  • EndNote: 4
Views and downloads (calculated since 28 Oct 2022)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 28 Oct 2022)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 154 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 154 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
Latest update: 06 Dec 2022
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.