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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-93
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-93
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Technical note 25 Feb 2019

Technical note | 25 Feb 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Technical note: A microcontroller-based automatic rain sampler for stable isotope studies

Nils Michelsen1, Gerrit Laube2, Jan Friesen3, Stephan M. Weise3, Ali Bakhit Ali Bait Said4, and Thomas Müller2 Nils Michelsen et al.
  • 1Institute of Applied Geosciences, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Darmstadt, 64287, Germany
  • 2Department of Hydrogeology, UFZ Helmholtz Centre for Environment Research, Leipzig, 04318, Germany
  • 3Department of Catchment Hydrology, UFZ Helmholtz Centre for Environment Research, Halle, 06120, Germany
  • 4Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, Salalah, Sultanate of Oman

Abstract. Automatic samplers represent a convenient way to gather rain samples for isotope (δ18O and δ2H) and water quality analyses. Yet, most commercial collectors are expensive and do not reduce post-sampling evaporation and the associated isotope fractionation sufficiently. Thus, we have developed a microcontroller-based automatic rain sampler for timer-actuated collection of integral rain samples. Sampling periods are freely selectable (minutes to weeks) and the device is low-cost, simple, robust, and customizable. Moreover, a combination of design features reliably minimizes evaporation from the collection bottles. Evaporation losses were assessed by placing the pre-filled sampler in a laboratory oven with which a diurnal temperature regime (21−31°C) was simulated for 26 weeks. At the end of the test, all bottles had lost less than 1‰ of the original water amount and all isotope shifts were within the analytical precision. These results show that even multi-week field deployments of the device would result in rather small evaporative mass losses and isotope shifts. Hence, we deem our sampler a useful addition to devices that are currently commercially available and/or described in the scientific literature. To enable reproduction, all relevant details on hard- and software are openly accessible.

Nils Michelsen et al.
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Short summary
Most commercial automatic rain samplers are costly and do not prevent evaporation from the collection bottles. Hence, we have developed a microcontroller-based collector enabling timer-actuated integral rain sampling. The simple, low-cost device is robust and effectively minimizes post-sampling evaporation. The excellent performance of the collector during an evaporation experiment in a lab oven suggests that even multi-week field deployments in warm climates are feasible.
Most commercial automatic rain samplers are costly and do not prevent evaporation from the...
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