Tritium and deuterium content of atmospheric hydrogen

Zeitschrift fur Naturforschung A
By:  and 



The tritium and deuterium content of 24 samples of atmospheric hydrogen collected at ground level near Buffalo. N.Y. (U.S.A.). Hamburg (Germany), and Nürnberg (Germany) during 1954 to 1956 was measured.

At the beginning of 1954 the T/H-ratio was found to have been 9.18 · 10-14 i.e. about a factor of 10 higher than 1949 (FALTINGS and HARTECK) and 1951 (v. GROSSE et al.), probably due to the first explosion of a thermonuclear device in November 1952. In spite of a major test series of thermonuclear weapons in spring of 1954 (Operation CASTLE) no further increase in the tritium content was found during 1954 and 1955. It shows instead a seasonal variation with low tritium content in summer and about a threefold higher one in winter. Simultaneously, there is a good correlation between the tritium and deuterium concentrations. From 1956 on a noticeable increase in the tritium content due to more man-made HT produced or released by thermonuclear devices into the atmosphere was found, in agreement with measurements by GONSIOR. A possible explanation of the experimental results as well as a mode to test the validity of the model suggested is given.

The deuterium concentrations of the samples analysed vary between about +7 percent and –17 percent, compared to Standard Lake Michigan Water with a ratio D/H = 0.0148 ± 0.0002 mol percent. Although from these results only a correlation factor between the tritium and deuterium content of “mean atmospheric hydrogen” and not their absolute values can be derived it is obvious that atmospheric hydrogen and the water vapour of the atmosphere are not in thermodynamic equilibrium, as has been pointed out before by HARTECK and SUESS.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Tritium and deuterium content of atmospheric hydrogen
Series title Zeitschrift fur Naturforschung A
DOI 10.1515/zna-1959-1204
Volume 14
Issue 12
Year Published 1959
Language English
Publisher De Gruyter
Description 8 p.
First page 1024
Last page 1031
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