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Original Research Papers

Seasonal variation of the molecular hydrogen uptake by soils inferred from continuous atmospheric observations in Heidelberg, southwest Germany

Authors:

Samuel Hammer ,

Institut für Umweltphysik, University of Heidelberg, DE
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Ingeborg Levin

Institut für Umweltphysik, University of Heidelberg, DE
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Abstract

The dominant sink of atmospheric molecular hydrogen (H2) is its enzymatic destruction in soils. Quantitative estimates of the global sink strength, as derived from bottom-up process studies, are, however, still associated to large uncertainties. Here we present an alternative way to estimate atmosphere-to-soil flux densities, respectively deposition velocities of H2, based on atmospheric H2 and 222Rn observations in the boundary layer. Two and a half years of continuous measurements from a polluted site in the Rhine-Neckar area have been evaluated and night-time flux densities were calculated for situations of strong nocturnal boundary layer inversions using the Radon-Tracer Method. The influences from local anthropogenic combustion sources could be detected and successfully separated by parallel measurements of carbon monoxide. Inferred daily uptake fluxes in the Heidelberg catchment area range from 0.5 to 3 × 10−8 g H2 m−2 s−1 with a mean value of (1.28 ± 0.31) × 10−8 g H2 m−2 s−1. Uptake rates are about 25% larger during summer than during winter, when soil moisture is high, and diffusive transport of H2 into the soil is inhibited. The mean deposition velocity is 3.0 ± 0.7 × 10−2 cm s−1 , which is very well in line with direct measurements on similar soil types in Europe and elsewhere.

How to Cite: Hammer, S. and Levin, I., 2009. Seasonal variation of the molecular hydrogen uptake by soils inferred from continuous atmospheric observations in Heidelberg, southwest Germany. Tellus B: Chemical and Physical Meteorology, 61(3), pp.556–565. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0889.2009.00417.x
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  Published on 01 Jan 2009
 Accepted on 20 Feb 2009            Submitted on 8 Nov 2008

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