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Establishing hydrogen isotope analysis of organic material - a door opener for research in the 2020s at WSL (HDOOR 2020)

Hydrogen isotopes in precipitation are indicative for climatic changes and this signal is expected to be reflected in plant and soil material. Analysis of non-exchangeable hydrogen isotopes (d2H) in organic should therefore provide a powerful new tool to disentangle and reconstruct past and present physiological, biochemical, and hydrological processes. However, commercially available methods are currently lacking and d2H analysis of organics has thus been rarely applied. We aim to raise this scientific treasure by setting-up a new d2H method that is based on a water vapour equilibration system. The efficient new d2H method will allow triple isotope analysis (C, O, H) and is thus a cutting-edge technology with an immense strategic potential. It will (i) open the door for many new research avenues in forest, soil, and biodiversity sciences in the 2020s, (ii) keep isotope research at the WSL at the frontiers of science, and (iii) promote recent and upcoming research proposals.