The National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility (NOSAMS) was founded at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in 1989, a time when international efforts were coordinated in recognition of the importance of the ocean’s role in global climate change. The primary focus was to provide high quality radiocarbon (14C) measurements of seawater dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) for global hydrography cruises. Early data provided foundational insights into the timescales of thermohaline circulation, and the continuous long-term records of seawater DI14C have proven essential for understanding the oceanic uptake of CO2 and for ground truthing global circulation models. Over 33,000 DI14C and DI13C measurements made at NOSAMS from global programs have been made publicly available through the CLIVAR and Carbon Hydrographic Data Office (CCHDO).
NOSAMS now plays a vital role in the oceanographic and earth sciences community in generating high accuracy, high precision 14C data in a timely manner for seawater, groundwater, organic carbon, carbonates, sediments, and other materials. For analyses requiring complex preparations, such as pretreating organic samples and ramped pyrolysis and oxidation (RPO) procedures, NOSAMS acts as a resource, ensuring that the oceanographic community has access to the most advanced techniques to address diverse research questions. The expertise of the NOSAMS staff has spurred continuous innovations to expand capabilities, and to improve analytical precision, throughput, and detection limits, and has facilitated innovations from visiting students and researchers.
Our routine reported precision for the Fraction Modern of samples containing greater than 250 micrograms carbon of modern age is 3-4 per mil.
NOSAMS accepts samples from all qualified research laboratories and charges fees that vary according to the difficulty of analysis and the nature of the project. Samples from U.S. federally supported research programs receive the lowest rates. Overall, the objective of this facility is to support research in all studies of global change.