The quality and utility of the records of oxygen-isotopic abundances, dust concentrations and anionic concentrations preserved in the ice at Siple Station (75°55′ S, 84° 15′ W) are assessed from four shallow (20 m) cores. The combination of high accumulation (0.56 m a−1 w.e.) and low mean annual temperature (—24°C) preserves the prominent seasonal variations in δ18Ο which are very spatially coherent. Sulfate concentrations vary seasonally and, in conjunction with δ18Ο, will allow accurate dating of deeper cores from Siple Station. The concentrations of insoluble dust are the lowest measured in Antarctica, making Siple Station an excellent location to examine large increases in atmospheric tubidity.
The seasonal variations and annual fluxes of the anions are examined for the last two decades (AD 1966–85) with regard to probable sources. An unusually high sulfate flux in 1976 may reflect the February 1975 eruption of Mount Ngauruhoe, New Zealand. No annual signal in nitrate concentration is confirmed and no unusually high nitrate fluxes support the suggestion of nitrate production by large solar flares. However, nitrate flux is higher for the latter half of the 1970s and early 1980s, possibly reflecting the recent loss of stratospheric ozone.
Finally, comparison of the δ18O record with available surface-temperature data (AD 1957–85) reveals that multi-year trends along the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula are recorded at Siple. More importantly, comparison with areally weighted temperature reconstructions suggests that the δ18Ο record may reflect larger-scale, persistent trends in the high southern latitudes. The strong spatial coherence of the preserved records, the potential for accurate dating, and possible relevance to larger-scale processes make Siple Station an excellent site for paleoenvironmental reconstruction from ice cores.