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Shallow firn cores, in addition to a near-basal ice core, were recovered in 2018 from the Quelccaya ice cap (5470 m a.s.l) in the Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru, and in 2017 from the Nevado Illimani glacier (6350 m a.s.l) in the Cordillera Real, Bolivia. The two sites are ~450 km apart. Despite meltwater percolation resulting from warming, particle-based trace element records (e.g. Fe, Mg, K) in the Quelccaya and Illimani shallow cores retain well-preserved signals. The firn core chronologies, established independently by annual layer counting, show a convincing overlap indicating the two records contain comparable signals and therefore capture similar regional scale climatology. Trace element records at a ~1–4 cm resolution provide past records of anthropogenic emissions, dust sources, volcanic emissions, evaporite salts and marine-sourced air masses. Using novel ultra-high-resolution (120 μm) laser technology, we identify annual layer thicknesses ranging from 0.3 to 0.8 cm in a section of 2000-year-old radiocarbon-dated near-basal ice which compared to the previous annual layer estimates suggests that Quelccaya ice cores drilled to bedrock may be older than previously suggested by depth-age models. With the information collected from this study in combination with past studies, we emphasize the importance of collecting new surface-to-bedrock ice cores from at least the Quelccaya ice cap, in particular, due to its projected disappearance as soon as the 2050s.
High-resolution analysis of the ice core from Colle Gnifetti, Switzerland, allows yearly and sub-annual measurement of pollution for the period of highest lead production in the European Middle Ages, c. AD 1170–1220. Here, the authors use atmospheric circulation analysis and other geoarchaeological records to establish that Britain was the principal source of that lead pollution. The comparison of annual lead deposition at Colle Gnifetti displays a strong similarity to trends in lead production documented in the English historical accounts. This research provides unique new insight into the yearly political economy and environmental impact of the Angevin Empire of Kings Henry II, Richard the Lionheart and John.
The seventh-century AD switch from gold to silver currencies transformed the socio-economic landscape of North-west Europe. The source of silver, however, has proven elusive. Recent research, integrating ice-core data from the Colle Gnifetti drill site in the Swiss Alps, geoarchaeological records and numismatic and historical data, has provided new evidence for this transformation. Annual ice-core resolution data are combined with lead pollution analysis to demonstrate that significant new silver mining facilitated the change to silver coinage, and dates the introduction of such coinage to c. AD 660. Archaeological evidence and atmospheric modelling of lead pollution locates the probable source of the silver to mines at Melle, in France.
The central Himalaya can be regarded as an ideal site for developing a long-term ice core dust record to reflect the environmental signals from regional to semi-hemispheric scales. Here we present a dust record from segments of a 108.83-m ice core recovered from the East Rongbuk (ER) Glacier (27°59â€²N, 86°55â€²E; 6518Â m a.s.l.) on the northeast slope of Mt. Qomolangma (Everest) in the central Himalaya, covering the period AD 600–1960. Due to rapidly layer thinning and coarse sampling, we primarily discuss the changes in the dust record since AD 1500 in this paper. Results show a significant positive relationship between the dust concentration and reconstructed air temperatures during this period, suggesting a likely cold–humid and warm–dry climatic pattern in the dust source regions, namely Central Asia. This is associated with the variability in the strength of the westerlies and its corresponding precipitation.
Although the dramatic climate disruptions of the last glacial period have received considerable attention, relatively little has been directed toward climate variability in the Holocene (11,500 cal yr B.P. to the present). Examination of ?50 globally distributed paleoclimate records reveals as many as six periods of significant rapid climate change during the time periods 9000"8000, 6000"5000, 4200"3800, 3500"2500, 1200"1000, and 600"150 cal yr B.P. Most of the climate change events in these globally distributed records are characterized by polar cooling, tropical aridity, and major atmospheric circulation changes, although in the most recent interval (600"150 cal yr B.P.), polar cooling was accompanied by increased moisture in some parts of the tropics. Several intervals coincide with major disruptions of civilization, illustrating the human significance of Holocene climate variability.
The time series of volcanically produced sulfate from the GISP2 ice core is used to develop a continuous record of explosive volcanism over the past 110,000 yr. We identified ∼850 volcanic signals (700 of these from 110,000 to 9000 yr ago) with sulfate concentrations greater than that associated with historical eruptions from either equatorial or mid-latitude regions that are known to have perturbed global or Northern Hemisphere climate, respectively. This number is a minimum because decreasing sampling resolution with depth, source volcano location, variable circulation patterns at the time of the eruption, and post-depositional modification of the signal can result in an incomplete record. The largest and most abundant volcanic signals over the past 110,000 yr, even after accounting for lower sampling resolution in the earlier part of the record, occur between 17,000 and 6000 yr ago, during and following the last deglaciation. A second period of enhanced volcanism occurs 35,000–22,000 yr ago, leading up to and during the last glacial maximum. These findings further support a possible climate-forcing component in volcanism. Increased volcanism often occurs during stadial/interstadial transitions within the last glaciation, but this is not consistent over the entire cycle. Ages for some of the largest known eruptions 100,000–9000 yr ago closely correspond to individual sulfate peaks or groups of peaks in our record.
A microparticle concentration peak in a GISP2 ice core contains volcanic glass shards of rhyolitic composition that correspond in age to the 1479-1480 A.D. Mt. St. Helens Wn eruption. These glass shards are compositionally similar to the Wn tephra and constitute 83% of the total particle population. The shards are very coarse-grained (up to 40 μm diameter), suggesting rapid transport from their source to Greenland. A major sulfate peak in the ice occurs approximately 4 months after deposition of the glass shards. This difference in depositional timing suggests primarily tropospheric transport of the ash and stratospheric transport of the sulfate aerosol. Large-scale climatic perturbations following this eruption were evidently negligible. Glaciochemical seasonal indicators suggest a late-fall to early-winter 1479 A.D. eruption.
Terrestrial meteorite ages indicate that some ice at the Allan Hills blue ice area (AH BIA) may be as old as 2.2 Ma. As such, ice from the AH BIA could potentially be used to extend the ice core record of paleoclimate beyond 800 ka. We collected samples from 5 to 10 cm depth along a 5 km transect through the main icefield and drilled a 225 m ice core (S27) at the midpoint of the transect to develop the climate archive of the AH BIA. Stable water isotope measurements (δD) of the surface chips and of ice core S27 yield comparable signals, indicating that the climate record has not been significantly altered in the surface ice. Measurements of 40Aratm and δ18Oatm taken from ice core S27 and eight additional shallow ice cores constrain the age of the ice to approximately 90–250 ka. Our findings provide a framework around which future investigations of potentially older ice in the AH BIA could be based.
A multiple parameter dating technique was used to establish a depth/age scale for a 171.3 m (145.87 m w.e.) surface to bedrock ice core (Bl2003) recovered from the cold recrystallization accumulation zone of the Western Belukha Plateau (4115 m a.s.l.) in the Siberian Altai Mountains. The ice-core record presented visible layering of annual accumulation and of δ18O/δD stable isotopes, and a clear tritium reference horizon. A steady-state glacier flow model for layer thinning was calibrated and applied to establish a depth/age scale. Four radiocarbon (14C) measurements of particulate organic carbon contained in ice-core samples revealed dates for the bottom part of Bl2003 from 9075 ± 1221 cal a BC at 145.2 ± 0.1 m w.e. (0.665 m w.e. from the bedrock) to 790 ± 93 AD at 121.1 m w.e. depth. Sulfate peaks coincident with volcanic eruptions, the Tunguska meteorite event, and the 1842 dust storm were used to verify dating. Analysis of the Bl2003 ice core reveals that the modern Altai glaciers were formed during the Younger Dryas (YD) (~10 950 to ~7500 cal a BC), and that they survived the Holocene Climate Optimum (HCO) (~6500 to ~3600 cal a BC) and the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) (~640 to ~1100 AD). A decrease in air temperature at the beginning and an abrupt increase at the end of the YD were identified. Intensification of winds and dust loading related to Asian desert expansion also characterized the YD. During the YD major ion concentrations increased significantly, up to 50 times for Na+ (background), up to 45 times for Ca2+ and Mg2+, and up to 20 times for SO42− relative to the recent warm period from 1993 to 2003. A warm period lasted for about three centuries following the YD signaling onset of the HCO. A significant and prolonged decrease in air temperature from ~2000 to ~600 cal a BC was associated with a severe centennial drought (SCD). A sharp increase in air temperatures after the SCD was coincident with the MWP. After the MWP a cooling was followed gradually with further onset of the Little Ice Age. During the modern warm period (1973–2003) an increase in air temperature is noted, which nearly reaches the average of HCO and MWP air temperature values.
This study presents an arsenic concentration time series from 1964–2009 at Dome Argus, Antarctica. The data show a very large increase in arsenic concentration from the mid-1980s to the late-1990s (by a factor of~22) compared with the values before the mid-1980s. This increase is likely to be related to the increased copper smelting in South America. Arsenic concentration then decreased in the late-1990s, most probably as a result of environmental regulations in South America. The sudden increase in arsenic concentration observed at Dome Argus coincides with similar increases observed at Dome Fuji and in Antarctica Ice Core-6 (IC-6) at the same time, suggesting that arsenic pollution during the period from the mid-1980s to the late-1990s was a regional phenomenon in Antarctica. Investigations of arsenic concentrations at these three Antarctic locations show that, during this time, regional arsenic distribution followed dust transport pathways associated with general climate models with South America as a major source region for the half of Antarctica facing the Atlantic and Indian oceans.
High-resolution δ18O records from a Geladaindong mountain ice core spanning the period 1477-1982 were used to investigate past temperature variations in the Yangtze River source region of the central Tibetan Plateau (TP). Annual ice-core δ18O records were positively correlated with temperature data from nearby meteorological stations, suggesting that the δ18O record represented the air temperature in the region. A generally increasing temperature trend over the past 500 years was identified, with amplified warming during the 20th century. A colder stage, spanning before the 1850s, was found to represent the Little Ice Age with colder periods occurring during the 1470s–1500s, 1580s–1660s, 1700s–20s and 1770s–1840s. Compared with other temperature records from the TP and the Northern Hemisphere, the Geladaindong ice-core record suggested that the regional climate of the central TP experienced a stronger warming trend during the 20th century than other regions. In addition, a positive relationship between the Geladaindong δ18 O values and the North Atlantic Oscillation index, combined with a wavelet analysis of δ18 O records, indicated that there was a potential atmospheric teleconnection between the North Atlantic and the central TP.
We offer the first sub-seasonal view of glacial age archives from the Siple Dome-A (SDMA) ice core using the ultra-high resolution capabilities of a newly developed laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS; 121 µm sampling resolution) system capable of conducting multi-element glaciochemical analysis. Our ultra-high resolution data demonstrates that: (1) the SDMA ice core record can be annually dated based on seasonality in chemical inputs at a depth not previously possible using previous glaciochemical sampling methods, (2) winter accumulation at the SD site was greater than summer accumulation during the three late glacial periods selected (~15.3, 17.3, 21.4 Ka ago) in this study and (3) resulting annual layer thicknesses results show greater variability than the current SD ice core depth/age model (Brook and others, 2005), possibly due to depositional effects such as wind scouring and/or decadal variability in snow accumulation that is not captured by the resolution of the current depth/age model.
Ice cores provide a robust reconstruction of past climate. However, development of timescales by annual-layer counting, essential to detailed climate reconstruction and interpretation, on ice cores collected at low-accumulation sites or in regions of compressed ice, is problematic due to closely spaced layers. Ice-core analysis by laser ablation–inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) provides sub-millimeter-scale sampling resolution (on the order of 100 μm in this study) and the low detection limits (ng L−1) necessary to measure the chemical constituents preserved in ice cores. We present a newly developed cryocell that can hold a 1 m long section of ice core, and an alternative strategy for calibration. Using ice-core samples from central Greenland, we demonstrate the repeatability of multiple ablation passes, highlight the improved sampling resolution, verify the calibration technique and identify annual layers in the chemical profile in a deep section of an ice core where annual layers have not previously been identified using chemistry. In addition, using sections of cores from the Swiss/Italian Alps we illustrate the relationship between Ca, Na and Fe and particle concentration and conductivity, and validate the LA-ICP-MS Ca profile through a direct comparison with continuous flow analysis results.
We present an update of the ‘key points’ from the Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment (ACCE) report that was published by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) in 2009. We summarise subsequent advances in knowledge concerning how the climates of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean have changed in the past, how they might change in the future, and examine the associated impacts on the marine and terrestrial biota. We also incorporate relevant material presented by SCAR to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings, and make use of emerging results that will form part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report.
We present a new surface-balance and ice-motion dataset derived from high-precision GPS measurements from a network of steel poles within three icefields of the Allan Hills blue-ice area, Antarctica. The surveys were conducted over a 14 year time period. Ice-flow velocities and mass- balance estimates for the main icefield (MIF) are consistent with those from pre-GPS era measurements but have much smaller uncertainties. The current study also extends these measurements through the near-western icefield (NWIF) to the eastern edge of the mid-western icefield (MWIF). The new dataset includes, for the first time, well-constrained evidence of upward motion within the Allan Hills MIF, indicating that old ice should be present at the surface. These data and terrestrial meteorite ages suggest that paleoclimate reconstructions using the surface record within the Allan Hills MIF could potentially extend the ice-core-based record beyond the 800 000 years currently available in the EPICA Dome C core.
Using results stemming from the International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition (ITASE) ice-core array plus data from ice cores from the South Pole and Siple Dome we investigate the use of sodium (Na+), non-sea-salt sulfate (nssSO42–) and methylsulfonate (MS–) as proxies for Antarctic sea-ice extent (SIE). Maximum and mean annual chemistry concentrations for these three species correlate significantly with maximum, mean and minimum annual SIE, offering more information and clarification than single ice-core and single species approaches. Significant correlations greater than 90% exist between Na+ and maximum SIE; nssSO42– with minimum and mean SIE; and MS– with mean SIE. Correlations with SIE within large geographic regions are in the same direction for all ice-core sites for Na+ and nssSO42– but not MS–. All ice cores display an SIE correlation with nssSO42– and MS–, but not all correlate with Na+. This multi-core multi-parameter study provides the initial step in determining which chemical species can be used reliably and in which regions as a building block for embedding other ice-core records. Once established, the resulting temporal and spatial matrix can be used to relate ice extents, atmospheric patterns, biological productivity and site conditions.
We report the discovery in the Greenland ice sheet of a discrete layer of free nanodiamonds (NDs) in very high abundances, implying most likely either an unprecedented influx of extraterrestrial (ET) material or a cosmic impact event that occurred after the last glacial episode. From that layer, we extracted n-diamonds and hexagonal diamonds (lonsdaleite), an accepted ET impact indicator, at abundances of up to about 5×106 times background levels in adjacent younger and older ice. The NDs in the concentrated layer are rounded, suggesting they most likely formed during a cosmic impact through some process similar to carbon-vapor deposition or high-explosive detonation. This morphology has not been reported previously in cosmic material, but has been observed in terrestrial impact material. This is the first highly enriched, discrete layer of NDs observed in glacial ice anywhere, and its presence indicates that ice caps are important archives of ET events of varying magnitudes. Using a preliminary ice chronology based on oxygen isotopes and dust stratigraphy, the ND-rich layer appears to be coeval with ND abundance peaks reported at numerous North American sites in a sedimentary layer, the Younger Dryas boundary layer (YDB), dating to 12.9 ± 0.1 ka. However, more investigation is needed to confirm this association.
In summer 2005, two pilot snow/firn cores were obtained at 5365 and 5206 m a.s.l. on Fedchenko glacier, Pamirs, Tajikistan, the world’s longest and deepest alpine glacier. The well-defined seasonal layering appearing in stable-isotope and trace element distribution identified the physical links controlling the climate and aerosol concentration signals. Air temperature and humidity/precipitation were the primary determinants of stable-isotope ratios. Most precipitation over the Pamirs originated in the Atlantic. In summer, water vapor was re-evaporated from semi-arid regions in central Eurasia. The semi-arid regions contribute to non-soluble aerosol loading in snow accumulated on Fedchenko glacier. In the Pamir core, concentrations of rare earth elements, major and other elements were less than those in the Tien Shan but greater than those in Antarctica, Greenland, the Alps and the Altai. The content of heavy metals in the Fedchenko cores is 2–14 times lower than in the Altai glaciers. Loess from Afghan–Tajik deposits is the predominant lithogenic material transported to the Pamirs. Trace elements generally showed that aerosol concentration tended to increase on the windward slopes during dust storms but tended to decrease with altitude under clear conditions. The trace element profile documented one of the most severe droughts in the 20th century.
‘There is no culture without glaciers. Without the mountain ranges where the snow is accumulated over winter and eventually packed to become ice, the flat lands would be desert lands’
W. Rickmer Rickmers (1929); after his expedition to the Pamirs with R. Finsterwalder
One common assumption in interpreting ice-core CO2 records is that diffusion in the ice does not affect the concentration profile. However, this assumption remains untested because the extremely small CO2 diffusion coefficient in ice has not been accurately determined in the laboratory. In this study we take advantage of high levels of CO2 associated with refrozen layers in an ice core from Siple Dome, Antarctica, to study CO2 diffusion rates. We use noble gases (Xe/Ar and Kr/Ar), electrical conductivity and Ca2+ ion concentrations to show that substantial CO2 diffusion may occur in ice on timescales of thousands of years. We estimate the permeation coefficient for CO2 in ice is ∼4 × 10−21 mol m−1 s−1 Pa−1 at −23°C in the top 287 m (corresponding to 2.74 kyr). Smoothing of the CO2 record by diffusion at this depth/age is one or two orders of magnitude smaller than the smoothing in the firn. However, simulations for depths of ∼930–950 m (∼60–70 kyr) indicate that smoothing of the CO2 record by diffusion in deep ice is comparable to smoothing in the firn. Other types of diffusion (e.g. via liquid in ice grain boundaries or veins) may also be important but their influence has not been quantified.
Annual-layer thickness data, spanning AD 1534–2001, from an ice core from East Rongbuk Col on Qomolangma (Mount Everest, Himalaya) yield an age–depth profile that deviates systematically from a constant accumulation-rate analytical model. The profile clearly shows that the mean accumulation rate has changed every 50–100 years. A numerical model was developed to determine the magnitude of these multi-decadal-scale rates. The model was used to obtain a time series of annual accumulation. The mean annual accumulation rate decreased from ∼0.8 m ice equivalent in the 1500s to ∼0.3 m in the mid-1800s. From ∼1880 to ∼1970 the rate increased. However, it has decreased since ∼1970. Comparison with six other records from the Himalaya and the Tibetan Plateau shows that the changes in accumulation in East Rongbuk Col are broadly consistent with a regional pattern over much of the Plateau. This suggests that there may be an overarching mechanism controlling precipitation and mass balance over this area. However, a record from Dasuopu, only 125 km northwest of Qomolangma and 700 m higher than East Rongbuk Col, shows a maximum in accumulation during the 1800s, a time during which the East Rongbuk Col and Tibetan Plateau ice-core and tree-ring records show a minimum. This asynchroneity may be due to altitudinal or seasonal differences in monsoon versus westerly moisture sources or complex mountain meteorology.