Radiocarbon method in monitoring of fossil fuel emission
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Online publication date: 2011-09-22
Publication date: 2011-12-01
Geochronometria 2011;38(4):314-324
The traditional radiocarbon method widely used in archaeology and geology for chronological purposes can also be used in environmental studies. Combustion of fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, petroleum, etc., in industrial and/or heavily urbanized areas, has increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The addition of fossil carbon caused changes of carbon isotopic composition, in particular, a definite decrease of 14C concentration in atmospheric CO2 and other carbon reservoirs (ocean and terrestrial biosphere), known as the Suess effect. Tree rings, leaves, as well as other annual growing plants reflected the changes of radiocarbon concentration in the atmosphere due to processes of photosynthesis and assimilation of carbon from the air. By measuring radiocarbon concentration directly in atmospheric CO2 samples and/or biospheric material growing in industrial and/or highly urbanized areas where high emission of dead carbon is expected, it is possible to estimate the total emission of dead CO2. Based on equations of mass balance for CO2 concentration, stable isotopic composition of carbon and radiocarbon concentration it is possible to calculate CO2 con-centration associated with fossil fuel emission into the atmosphere. The procedure use differences between the radiocarbon concentration and stable isotope composition of carbon observed in clean areas and industrial or/and highly urbanized areas.
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