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Climatic, Solar, Oceanic, and Geomagnetic Influences on Late-Glacial and Holocene Atmospheric 14C/12C Change

  • Minze Stuiver (a1), Thomas F. Braziunas (a1), Bernd Becker (a2) and Bernd Kromer (a3)


Late-glacial and Holocene 14C/12C ratios of atmospheric CO2 vary in magnitude from a few per mil for annual/decadal pertubations to more than 10% for events lasting millennia. A data set illuminating 10- to 104-yr variability refines our understanding of oceanic (climatic) versus geomagnetic or solar forcing of atmospheric 14C/12C ratios. Most of the variance in the Holocene atmospheric 14C/12C record can be attributed to the geomagnetic (millennia time scale) and solar (century time scale) influence on the flux of primary cosmic rays entering the atmosphere. Attributing the observed atmospheric 14C/12C changes to climate alone leads to ocean circulation and/or global wind speed changes incompatible with proxy records. Climate-(ocean-)related 14C redistribution between carbon reservoirs, while evidently playing a minor role during the Holocene, may have perturbed atmospheric 14C/12C ratios measurably during the late-glacial Younger Dryas event. First-order corrections to the radiocarbon time scale (12,000–30,000 14C yr B.P.) are calculated from adjusted lake-sediment and tree-ring records and from geomagnetically defined model 14C histories. Paleosunspot numbers (100–9700 cal yr B.P.) are derived from the relationship of model 14C production rates to sunspot observations. The spectral interpretation of the 14C/12C atmospheric record favors higher than average solar activity levels for the next century. Minimal evidence was found for a sun-weather relationship.



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