Oxygen isotopes and lakes

Leng, Melanie; Dean, Jonathan. 2014 Oxygen isotopes and lakes. Climatica.

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Isotopes are variations of a particular chemical element. It is all to do with the number of neutrons. Oxygen has two main isotopes: 18O which has 10 neutrons and 8 protons; and 16O which has 8 neutrons and 8 protons. Although these variants have a different number of neutrons (and therefore a different atomic mass), the number of protons remains the same, and they are still classed as the same element. Isotopes are analysed in terms of ratios such as 18O/16O which is shortened to δ18O (δ is the symbol for ‘delta’ and means ‘change’) and are measured in parts per thousand or ‘per mil’ (‰). 18O is said to be ‘heavier’ than 16O, because it is carrying more neutrons. The greater the number of neutrons, the heavier the isotope.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Climatica is a climate science and public interaction initiative developed by postgraduate researchers. We offer short articles about climate change and the Earth system, written by the scientific experts (from postgraduate researchers to professors) for you! We explain the basis of the science, how data is collected and what all of the research is telling us. A range of written articles, video talks, blogs from the field, and opportunities for questions and discussion, mean that there is something for everyone. Above all, we hope that you enjoy engaging with the wider, and ever important, subject of climate science!
Date made live: 12 May 2014 08:26 +0 (UTC)

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