This paper includes a brief history of the calibration of the radiocarbon time scale from the first recognition of the necessity of calibration in 1962 to INTCAL98. Thirty-six years of effort by dendrochronologists and the 14C community have pushed the tree-ring calibration back to 11,854 yr BP. All of this part of the calibration has been done by high-precision beta counting. Uranium-thorium (U-Th) dating of coral samples coupled with accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) measurement of 14C has extended a fairly detailed calibration back beyond the Bølling warm episode to 15,000 BP. Earlier than 15,000 BP, piecewise linear approximation extends INTCAL98 calibration to 24,200 BP.
Blending 1-, 2-, 3-, 10-, and 20-yr tree-ring samples containing regional and data offsets into a decadal time scale does not make an ideal error and bias free δ14C record. Nevertheless, spectral analysis reveals some statistically significant fundamental frequencies as well as interesting “beat” frequencies and the second harmonic of the around 208-yr cycle that is considered to be solar in origin. Although, some very prominent peaks such as the 88-yr (Gleissberg) are clearly solar in origin, some of the lower frequencies such as of the 512-yr period may have an origin in thermohaline circulation. Thus, INTCAL98 provides useful data for geophysical and solar physics research. Lastly, single year δ14C analysis would be useful for revealing invaluable information for solar physics, astrophysics and geophysics not accessible by decadal data. We provide several examples.