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Journal article

Changes in black carbon deposition to Antarctica from two high-resolution ice core records, 1850-2000 AD

Bisiaux M, Edwards R, McConnell J, Curran M, Van Ommen T, Smith A, Neumann T, Pasteris D, Penner J, Taylor K ...see all

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, vol. 12, issue 9 (2012) pp. 4107-4115

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Abstract

Abstract. Refractory black carbon aerosols (rBC) emitted
by biomass burning (fires) and fossil fuel combustion, affect
global climate and atmospheric chemistry. In the Southern
Hemisphere (SH), rBC is transported in the atmosphere
from low- and mid-latitudes to Antarctica and deposited to
the polar ice sheet preserving a history of emissions and atmospheric
transport. Here, we present two high-resolution
Antarctic rBC ice core records drilled from the West Antarctic
Ice Sheet divide and Law Dome on the periphery of the
East Antarctic ice sheet. Separated by ⬚3500 km, the records
span calendar years 1850–2001 and reflect the rBC distribution
over the Indian and Pacific ocean sectors of the Southern
Ocean. Concentrations of rBC in the ice cores displayed
significant variability at annual to decadal time scales, notably
in ENSO-QBO and AAO frequency bands. The delay
observed between rBC and ENSO variability suggested
that ENSO does not directly affect rBC transport, but rather
continental hydrology, subsequent fire regimes, and aerosol
emissions. From 1850 to 1950, the two ice core records were
uncorrelated but were highly correlated from 1950 to 2002
(cross-correlation coefficient at annual resolution: r = 0.54,
p < 0.01) due to a common decrease in rBC variability. The
decrease in ice-core rBC from the 1950s to late 1980s displays
similarities with inventories of SH rBC grass fires and
biofuel emissions, which show reduced emission estimates
over that period.

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