We describe here the Harvard integrated cavity output spectroscopy (ICOS) isotope instrument, a mid-IR infrared spectrometer using ICOS to make in situ measurements of the primary isotopologues of water vapor (H2O, HDO, and H218O) in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS). The long path length provided by ICOS provides the sensitivity and accuracy necessary to measure these or other trace atmospheric species at concentrations in the ppbv range. The Harvard ICOS isotope instrument has been integrated onto NASA’s WB-57 high-altitude research aircraft and to date has flown successfully in four field campaigns from winter 2004–2005 to the present. Off-axis alignment and a fully passive cavity ensure maximum robustness against the vibrationally hostile aircraft environment. The very simple instrument design permitted by off-axis ICOS is also helpful in minimizing contamination necessary for accurate measurements in the dry UTLS region. The instrument is calibrated in the laboratory via two separate water addition systems and crosscalibrated against other instruments. Calibrations have established an accuracy of 5% for all species. The instrument has demonstrated measurement precision of 0.14 ppmv, 0.10 ppbv, and 0.16 ppbv in 4 s averages for H2O, HDO, and H218O, respectively. At a water vapor mixing ratio of 5 ppmv the isotopologue ratio precision is 50‰ and 30‰ for δD and δ18O, respectively.

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