Training course on the theory, analytics and interpretation of stable water isotopes in the coupled Earth System

June 12, 2019 – June 14, 2019 all-day
University of Bergen, GFI/GEO and FARLAB

Responsible: Harald Sodemann, UiB
Invited lecturer: Ulysses Ninnemann, UiB; Pål Tore Mørkved, UiB; Hans Christian Steen-Larsen, UiB
Max. no. of participants: ca. 10
Credit point: 1 ECTS
Registration form here.  (registration closed)
Submitted applicant list

Course description

In this training course, we will provide an in-depth introduction to understanding the principles and applications of stable water isotopes across different components of the Earth System, through lectures, conceptual model exercises, laboratory experiments and data analysis. We will also introduce participants to the analytical procedures at the national reference laboratory FARLAB at UiB, and recommend sample collection procedures.
The course will use an active teaching approach, and participants are invited to bring an own sample to be processed at the laboratory during the training course.


Day 1: Lectures will cover fundamental principles of isotope fractionation with a focus on water isotopes (H216O, H217O, H218O, HDO) and derived parameters for conditions at the evaporation source (Deuterium excess, Δ17O excess) in several components of the climate system, including atmosphere, hydrosphere, and cryosphere. Furthermore, current measurement principles based on Cavity-Ring Down Spectroscopy and Mass Spectroscopy are reviewed. In the afternoon, students set up a simple evaporation experiment and prepare test samples (tap water from home) for isotope analysis in the laboratory at FARLAB.

Day 2: Lectures will focus on fractionation during phase transitions in atmospheric systems, including evaporation and condensation processes. Classical and advanced models for evaporation and condensation processes, from the Rayleigh model, to single-column microphysics models, to grid scale models will be presented. In the afternoon, students will run different model case studies, and prepare samples from evaporation experiments in the laboratory.

Day 3: Lectures will focus on sampling procedures, analytical uncertainty for different systems. Spatial representativeness of measurements in different phases and systems are presented. In the afternoon, students work on presenting results from the evaporation experiments and compare their results with respect to predictions from an evaporation model.


Through our course, participants will gain theoretical and practical in-depth knowledge in the stable water isotope analysis, as well as a broader understanding for interpreting the isotope signal from different components in the coupled Earth System at a graduate level.
At completion of the course, participants will have reached the following outcomes and benefits:


– gain understanding of water isotope fractionation processes
– acquire knowledge of isotopes in the coupled ocean/atmosphere/land/ice system
– know about current measurement techniques
– know about recommended sampling procedures


– apply a simple isotope fractionation model
– perform simple evaporation experiment
– prepare and process own samples on state-of-the-art instrumentation