ESR 2 – Thermo-desorption PTR-MS for measuring organic compounds in deep ice

Early stage researcher: Hanne Notø 

Supervisors: Holzinger (Univ. of Utrecht, NL), M. Hutterli (TOFWERK, CH)

Academic secondment: Univ. of Venice (IT); Non-academic secondment: TOFWERK (CH)


The chemical fingerprint of particulate and dissolved organic matter in deep ice likely holds information on atmospheric composition and climate of the past. In this project, a semi-continuous method for organic matter analysis in ice cores will be developed.

The method is based on Proton-Transfer-Reaction Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS) coupled to a Thermo-Desorption (TD) unit, and the speciated chemical composition of particulate and dissolved organic matter in deep ice will be measured. Chemical fingerprint analysis will associate the chemical composition with other climate proxies derived from ice-core analysis and thus identify specific natural or anthropogenic chemical tracers in ice core samples.

The PhD project is based at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and there are two secondments; at Tofwerk AG in Switzerland, and at the University of Venice in Italy.

Starting with the setup that was developed at Utrecht University (Materic et al., Sci. Rep. 2017) we will further improve the method to separately measure both, dissolved and insoluble organic matter in ice cores. Together with our commercial partners at Tofwerk (Switzerland) we will develop a continuous flow system to maximize the depth/time resolving power in ice core measurements. During the secondment at the University of Venice the method will be run on deep ice cores in parallel with many other analytical techniques.

Key words: PTR-MS, organic matter, thermal desorption, dissolved organics, mass spectrometry


Scientific results

Azzurra Spagnesi, Elena Barbaro, Matteo Feltracco, Fabrizio De Blasi, Daniele Zannoni, Giuliano Dreossi, Agnese Petteni, Hanne Notø, Rachele Lodi, Jacopo Gabrieli, Rupert Holzinger, Andrea Gambaro, Carlo Barbante An upgraded CFA – FLC – MS/MS system for the semi-continuous detection of levoglucosan in ice cores in TALANTA, vol. 265 (ISSN 0039-9140),, 2023.


Presentation by Hanne Noto at EGU2022 :

AS3.1 – Aerosol Chemistry and Physics (General Session), room F1 on Tuesday, 24 May 2022, 11:32 CEST: EGU22-8494
Chemical Analysis of Organic Aerosol Particles and Nanoplastics Deposited on Alpine Glaciers
by Hanne Notø et al.