The 18O/16O and 17O/16O Ratios in Atmospheric Nitrous Oxide: A Mass-Independent Anomaly

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Science  05 Dec 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5344, pp. 1774-1776
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5344.1774

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Measurements of the oxygen isotope ratios (18O/16O and 17O/16O) in atmospheric nitrous oxide (N2O) from La Jolla, Pasadena, and the White Mountain Research Station (elevation, 3801 meters) in California and the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico show that N2O has a mass-independent composition. These data suggest the presence of a previously undefined atmospheric process. The La Jolla samples can be explained by a mixing between an atmospherically derived source of mass-independent N2O and biologically derived mass-dependent N2O. Possible origins of the mass-independent anomaly in N2O are discussed.

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