Cryogenic Water Extraction - Worldwide Lab Intercomparison Project


Photo of the cryogenic water extraction system at the Department of Landscape, Water and Biogeochemical Cycles (JLU, Giessen, Germany).

Many labs benefit from cryogenic water extractions for the analysis of δ2H and δ18O isotopic signatures for different purposes. Some determine plant water uptake depth, others examine soil water movements. Nevertheless, despite the operational use of cryogenic extraction, artifacts leading to uncertain isotopic signatures, and thus, potentially doubtful conclusions, were often observed.

Obtained isotope results imply that extraction conditions (time, temperature, pressure) have to be adapted specifically to the extracted material. However, we lack clear recommendations for standardized extraction conditions. We therefore see an urgent need to rigorously compare results obtained through cryogenic water extraction.

In order to contribute to a method improvement, we plan to develop a standard operating procedure for cryo-lines (with defined extraction times, temperature, and pressure adjusted to different soil types).

For further information contact Natalie Orlowski, who will lead the worldwide interlab comparison project as part of her Postdoc.

If you and your lab want to participate in the project, please fill out the form (link) and send it to Natalie Orlowski.

We look forward to having you on board!

This project is in cooperation with the Department of Landscape, Water and Biogeochemical Cycles, Prof. Dr. Lutz Breuer, Justus-Liebig-Universtiy Giessen (JLU, Germany) (

Project-related literature

Brooks, J., R., Barnard, H., R., Coulombe, R. and McDonnell, J., J.: Ecohydrologic separation of water between trees and streams in a Mediterranean climate, Nat. Geosci., 3(2), 100–104, doi:10.1038/ngeo722, 2009.

McDonnell, J. J.: The two water worlds hypothesis: ecohydrological separation of water between streams and trees?, WIREs Water, 1(4), 323–329, doi:10.1002/wat2.1027, 2014.

Orlowski, N., Frede, H.-G., Brüggemann, N. & Breuer, L.: Validation and application of a cryogenic vacuum extraction system for soil and plant water extraction for isotope analysis. J. Sens. Sens. Syst. 2, 179–193, 2013.

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