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Levoglucosan concentrations in ice-core samples from the Tibetan Plateau determined by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry

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Levoglucosan is a unique marker for biomass burning that can be transported in the atmosphere and preserved in archives such as ice cores. A new method to determine the concentrations of levoglucosan in Tibetan ice-core samples using high-performance liquid chromatography with electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (HPLC-ESI/MS) was developed. Levoglucosan was separated from coeluting water-soluble organic compounds using a C18 column with a gradient program from 50% to 90% methanol in ultrapure water. An external standard calibration curve (R 2 = 0.9958) was established by plotting the ion m/z 163 [M + H]+ peak area versus the amount of analyte. The repeatability ranges between 11% and 2% at a concentration around 10 and 150 ng mL–1. The limit of detection was 10 ng mL–1 and the limit of quantification was 40 ng mL–1. Levoglucosan concentrations ranged from 10 to 718 ng mL–1 in the Muztagh Ata ice core and from 10 to 93 ng mL–1 in the Tanggula ice core. These concentrations, up to 1000 times higher than those measured in samples from Antarctic and Greenland, showed the higher vulnerability of the Tibetan Plateau glaciers to biomass burning events.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2013

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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