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Advances in analytical methods have made it possible to obtain high-resolution water isotopic data from ice cores. Their spectral signature contains information on the diffusion process that attenuated the isotopic signal during the firn densification process. Here, we provide a tool for estimating firn-diffusion rates that builds on the Community Firn Model. Our model requires two main inputs, temperature and accumulation, and it calculates the diffusion lengths for δ17O, δ18O and δD. Prior information on the isotopic signal of the precipitation is not a requirement. In combination with deconvolution techniques, diffusion lengths can be used in order reconstruct the pre-diffusion isotopic signal. Furthermore, the temperature dependence of the isotope diffusion and firn densification makes the diffusion length an interesting candidate as a temperature proxy. We test the model under steady state and transient scenarios and compare four densification models. Comparisons with ice core data provide an evaluation of the four models and indicate that there are differences in their performance. Combining data-based diffusion length estimates with information on past accumulation rates and ice flow thinning, we reconstruct absolute temperatures from three Antarctic ice core sites.
An intermediate-depth (1751 m) ice core was drilled at the South Pole between 2014 and 2016 using the newly designed US Intermediate Depth Drill. The South Pole ice core is the highest-resolution interior East Antarctic ice core record that extends into the glacial period. The methods used at the South Pole to handle and log the drilled ice, the procedures used to safely retrograde the ice back to the National Science Foundation Ice Core Facility (NSF-ICF), and the methods used to process and sample the ice at the NSF-ICF are described. The South Pole ice core exhibited minimal brittle ice, which was likely due to site characteristics and, to a lesser extent, to drill technology and core handling procedures.
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