Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (2020-12-01)

Technical note: Evaluation of a low-cost evaporation protection method for portable water samplers

  • J. von Freyberg,
  • J. von Freyberg,
  • J. von Freyberg,
  • J. L. A. Knapp,
  • J. L. A. Knapp,
  • A. Rücker,
  • A. Rücker,
  • B. Studer,
  • J. W. Kirchner,
  • J. W. Kirchner,
  • J. W. Kirchner

DOI
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-24-5821-2020
Journal volume & issue
Vol. 24
pp. 5821 – 5834

Abstract

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Automated field sampling of streamwater or precipitation for subsequent analysis of stable water isotopes (2H and 18O) is often conducted with off-the-shelf automated samplers. However, when water samples are stored in the field for days and weeks in open bottles inside autosamplers, their isotopic signatures can be altered by evaporative fractionation and vapor mixing. We therefore designed an evaporation protection method which modifies autosampler bottles using a syringe housing and silicone tube, and we tested whether this method reduces evaporative fractionation and vapor mixing in water samples stored for up to 24 d in 6712 full-size portable samplers (Teledyne ISCO, Lincoln, USA). Laboratory and field tests under different temperature and humidity conditions showed that water samples in bottles with evaporation protection were far less altered by evaporative fractionation and vapor mixing than samples in conventional open bottles. Our design is a cost-efficient approach to upgrade the 1 L sample bottles of the ISCO autosamplers, allowing secure water sample collection in warm and dry environments. Our design can be readily adapted (e.g., by using a different syringe size) to fit the bottles used by many other field autosamplers.