Skip to main content Accessibility help

High-resolution ice cores from US ITASE (West Antarctica): development and validation of chronologies and determination of precision and accuracy

  • Eric J. Steig (a1), Paul A. Mayewski (a2), Daniel A. Dixon (a2), Susan D. Kaspari (a2), Markus M. Frey (a3), David P. Schneider (a1), Steven A. Arcone (a3), Gordon S. Hamilton (a2), V. Blue Spikes (a2), Mary Albert (a3), Deb Meese (a3), Anthony J. Gow (a3), Christopher A. Shuman (a4), James W.C. White (a5), Sharon Sneed (a2), Joseph Flaherty (a1) and Mark Wumkes (a6)...


Shallow ice cores were obtained from widely distributed sites across the West Antarctic ice sheet, as part of the United States portion of the International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition (US ITASE) program. The US ITASE cores have been dated by annual-layer counting, primarily through the identification of summer peaks in non-sea-salt sulfate (nssSO4 2–) concentration. Absolute dating accuracy of better than 2 years and relative dating accuracy better than 1 year is demonstrated by the identification of multiple volcanic marker horizons in each of the cores, Tambora, Indonesia (1815), being the most prominent. Independent validation is provided by the tracing of isochronal layers from site to site using high-frequency ice-penetrating radar observations, and by the timing of mid-winter warming events in stable-isotope ratios, which demonstrate significantly better than 1 year accuracy in the last 20 years. Dating precision to ±1 month is demonstrated by the occurrence of summer nitrate peaks and stable-isotope ratios in phase with nssSO4 2–, and winter-time sea-salt peaks out of phase, with phase variation of <1 month. Dating precision and accuracy are uniform with depth, for at least the last 100 years.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      High-resolution ice cores from US ITASE (West Antarctica): development and validation of chronologies and determination of precision and accuracy
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      High-resolution ice cores from US ITASE (West Antarctica): development and validation of chronologies and determination of precision and accuracy
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      High-resolution ice cores from US ITASE (West Antarctica): development and validation of chronologies and determination of precision and accuracy
      Available formats



Hide All
Arcone, S.A., Spikes, V.B. and Hamilton, G.S. 2005. Phase structure of radar stratigraphic horizons within Antarctic firn. Ann. Glaciol., 41 (see paper in this volume).
Arrigo, K. and 6 others. 1999. Phytoplankton community structure and the drawdown of nutrients and CO2 in the Southern Ocean. Science, 283(5400), 365–367.
Bergin, M.H., Meyerson, E.A., J.E. Dibb, and P.A. Mayewski, . 1998. Relationship between continuous aerosol measurements and firn core chemistry over a 10-year period at the South Pole. Geophys. Res. Lett., 25(8), 1189–1192.
Bromwich, D.H., Guo, Z., Bai, L. and Chen, Q.. 2004. Modelled Antarctic precipitation. Part I: spatial and temporal variability. J. Climate, 17(3), 427–447.
Buck, C.F., Mayewski, P.A., Spencer, M.J., Whitlow, S., Twickler, M.S. and Barrett, D.. 1992. Determination of major ions in snow and ice cores by ion chromatography. J. Chromatogr., 594(1–2), 225–228.
M., Cacciani, di Girolamo, P., di Sarra, A., Fiocco, G. and Fua, D.. 1993. Volcanic aerosol layers observed by lidar at South Pole, September 1991–June 1992. Geophys. Res. Lett., 20(9), 807–810.
Chenoweth, M. 2001. Two major volcanic cooling episodes derived from global marine air temperature AD 1807–1827,. Geophys. Res. Lett., 28(15), 2963–2966.
Cuffey, K.M. and Steig, E.J.. 1998. Isotopic diffusion in polar firn: implications for interpretation of seasonal climate parameters in ice-core records, with emphasis on central Greenland. J. Glaciol., 44(147), 273–284.
Delmas, R. 1982. Antarctic sulphate budget. Nature, 299(5885), 677–678.
Dixon, D., Mayewski, P.A., Kaspari, S., Sneed, S. and Handley, M.. 2004. A 200-year sub-annual record of sulfate in West Antarctica from 16 ice cores. Ann. Glaciol., 39, 545–556.
Frey, M.M., Bales, R.C. and McConnell, J.R.. In press. Climate sensitivity of the century-scale hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) record preserved in 23 ice cores from West Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res.
Jacobel, R., Welch, B.C., Steig, E. and Schneider, D.. 2005. Glaciological and climatic significance of Hercules Dome,
Antarctica – an optimal site for deep ice core drilling. J. Geophys. Res., 110(F1), F01015. (10.1029/2004JF000188.)
Johnsen, S.J., Dansgaard, W., Clausen, H.B. and C.C. Langway, , Jr. 1972. Oxygen isotope profiles through the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. Nature, 235(5339), 429–434.
Jones, J.M. and Widmann, M.. 2003. Instrument- and tree-ring-based estimates of the Antarctic oscillation. J. Climate, 16(21), 3511–3524.
Jouzel, J. and 12 others. 2001. A new 27 ky high resolution East Antarctic climate record. Geophys. Res. Lett., 28(16), 3199–3202.
Kaspari, S. and 6 others. 2004. Climate variability in West Antarctica derived from annual accumulation rate records from ITASE firn/ice cores. Ann. Glaciol., 39, 585–594
Kaspari, S., Mayewski, P.A., Dixon, D.A., Sneed, S.B. and Handley, M.J.. 2005. Sources and transport pathways of marine aerosol species into West Antarctica. Ann. Glaciol., 41 (see paper in this volume).
Kettle, A.J. and 31 others. 1999. A global database of sea surface dimethyl sulfide (DMS) measurements and a procedure to predict sea surface DMS as a function of latitude, longitude, and month. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 13(2), 399–444.
Kreutz, K.J. and Mayewski, P.A.. 1999. Spatial variability of Antarctic surface snow glaciochemistry: implications for paleoatmospheric circulation reconstructions. Antarct. Sci., 11(1), 105–118.
Kreutz, K.J., Mayewski, P.A., Meeker, L.D., Twickler, M.S. and Whitlow, S.I.. 2000a. The effect of spatial and temporal accumulation rate variability in West Antarctica on soluble ion deposition. Geophys. Res. Lett., 27(16), 2517–2520.
Kreutz, K.J., Mayewski, P.A., Pittalwala, I.I., Meeker, L.D., Twickler, M.S. and Whitlow, S.I.. 2000b. Sea level pressure variability in the Amundsen Sea region inferred from a West Antarctic glaciochemical record. J. Geophys. Res., 105(D3), 4047–4059.
Legrand, M. and Mayewski, P.. 1997. Glaciochemistry of polar ice cores: a review. Rev. Geophys., 35(3), 219–243.
Mann, M.E. and Jones, P.D.. 2003. Global surface temperatures over the past two millennia. Geophys. Res. Lett., 30(15), 1820. (10.1029/2003GL017814.)
Mann, M.E., , Bradley, R.S. and Hughes, M.K.. 1998. Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries. Nature, 392(6678), 779–787.
Masson-Delmotte, V. and 6 others. 2003. Recent southern Indian Ocean climate variability inferred from a Law Dome ice core. Climate Dyn., 21(2), 153–166. (10.1007/s00382-003-0321-9.)
Mayewski, P.A. and Goodwin, I.D.. 1996. International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition (ITASE) ‘200 years of past Antarctic climate and environmental change’. Science and implementation plan, 1996. PAGES Workshop Report 97-1.
Mayewski, P.A. and Legrand, M.. 1990. Recent increase in nitrate concentration of Antarctic snow. Nature, 346(6281), 258–260.
McConnell, J.R., Bales, R.C., Stewart, R.W., Thompson, A.M., Albert, M.R. and Ramos, R.. 1998. Physically based modeling of atmosphere-to-snow-to-firn transfer of H2O2 at South Pole. J. Geophys. Res., 103(D9), 10,561–10,570.
Mosley-Thompson, E., Thompson, L.G., Grootes, P.M. and Gundestrup, N.. 1990. Little Ice Age (neoglacial) paleoenvironmental conditions at Siple Station, Antarctica. Ann. Glaciol., 14, 199–204.
Mulvaney, R. and Wolff, E.W.. 1993. Evidence for winter/spring denitrification of the stratosphere in the nitrate record of Antarctic firn cores. J. Geophys. Res., 98(D3), 5213–5220.
O’Brien, S.R., Mayewski, P.A., Meeker, L.D., Meese, D.A., Twickler, M.S. and Whitlow, S.I.. 1995. Complexity of Holocene climate as reconstructed from a Greenland ice core. Science, 270(5244), 1962–1964.
Percival, D.B. and Walden, A.T.. 1993. Spectral analysis for physical applications: multitaper and conventional univariate techniques. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Rick, U.K. and Albert, M.R.. 2004. Microstructure and permeability in the near-surface firn near a potential U.S. deep drilling site in West Antarctica. Ann. Glaciol., 39, 62–66.
Riedel, K., Weller, R., Schrems, O. and König-Langlo, G.. 2000. Variability of hydrogen peroxide and methylhydroperoxide in the Antarctic troposphere. Atmos. Environ., 34, 5225–5234.
Röthlisberger, R. and 6 others. 2000. Technique for continuous high-resolution analysis of trace substances in firn and ice cores. Environ. Sci. Technol., 34(2), 338–342.
Saxena, V.K., Anderson, J. and Lin, N.H.. 1995. Changes in Antarctic stratospheric aerosol characteristics due to volcanic eruptions as monitored by the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment II satellite. J. Geophys. Res., 100(D8), 16,735–16,751.
Schneider, D.P. and Steig, E.J.. 2002. Spatial and temporal variability of Antarctic ice sheet microwave brightness temperatures. Geophys. Res. Lett., 29(20), 1964. (10.1029/2002GL015490.)
Schneider, D.P., Steig, E.J. and Comiso, J.C.. 2004. Recent climate variability in Antarctica from satellite-derived temperature data. J. Climate, 17(7), 1569–1583.
Schneider, D.P., Steig, E.J. and van Ommen, T.. 2005. High-resolution ice-core stable-isotopic records from Antarctica: towards interannual climate reconstruction. Ann. Glaciol., 41 (see paper in this volume).
Shuman, C.A., Alley, R.B., Anandakrishnan, S. and Stearns, C.R.. 1995. An empirical technique for estimating near-surface air temperature trends in central Greenland from SSM/I brightness temperatures. Remote Sens. Environ., 51(2), 245–252.
Spikes, V.B., Hamilton, G.S., Arcone, S.A., Kaspari, S. and Mayewski, P.. 2004. Variability in accumulation rates from GPR profiling on the West Antarctic plateau. Ann. Glaciol., 39, 238–244.
Taylor, K.C. and 13 others. 2004a. Abrupt late glacial climate change in the Pacific sector of Antarctica. Quat. Sci. Rev., 23(1), 7–15.
Taylor, K.C. and 13 others. 2004b. Dating the Siple Dome (Antarctica) ice core by manual and computer interpretation of annual layering. J. Glaciol., 50(170), 453–461.
Thompson, D.W.J. and Wallace, J.M.. 2000. Annular modes in the extratropical circulation. Part I: Month-to-month variability. J. Climate, 13(5), 1000–1016.
Thompson, L.G. and 7 others. 1994. Climate since AD 1510 on Dyer Plateau, Antarctic Peninsula: evidence for recent climate change. Ann. Glaciol., 20, 420–426.
Thomson, D.J. 1982. Spectrum estimation and harmonic analysis. Proc. IEEE, 70, 1055–1096.
Vaughan, D.G., Bamber, J.L., Giovinetto, M.B., Russell, J. and Cooper, A.P.R.. 1999. Reassessment of net surface mass balance in Antarctica. J. Climate, 12(4), 933–946.
Wagenbach, D. and 7 others. 1998. Sea-salt aerosol in coastal Antarctic regions. J. Geophys. Res., 103(D9), 10,961–10,974.
Watanabe, O., Jouzel, J., Johnsen, S., Parrenin, F., Shoji, H. and Yoshida, N.. 2003. Homogeneous climate variability across East Antarctica over the past three glacial cycles. Nature, 422(2805), 509–512.
Waugh, D.W., Randel, W.J., Pawson, S., Newman, P.A. and Nash, E.R.. 1999. Persistence of the lower stratospheric polar vortices. J. Geophys. Res., 104(D22), 27,191–27,201.
Whitlow, S., Mayewski, P.A. and Dibb, J.E.. 1992. A comparison of major chemical species seasonal concentration and accumulation at the South Pole and Summit, Greenland. Atmos. Environ., 26A(11), 2045–2054.
Yuan, X. and Martinson, D.G.. 2001. The Antarctic dipole and its predictability. Geophys. Res. Lett., 28(18), 3609–3612.
Zielinski, G.A. and 8 others. 1994. Record of volcanism since 7000 B.C. from the GISP2 Greenland ice core and implications for the volcano–climate system. Science, 264(5161), 948–952.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Annals of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0260-3055
  • EISSN: 1727-5644
  • URL: /core/journals/annals-of-glaciology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed