An 800-year high-resolution black carbon ice core record from Lomonosovfonna, Svalbard

Osmont, Dimitri; Wendl, Isabel A.; Schmidely, Loïc; Sigl, Michael; Vega, Carmen P.; Isaksson, Elisabeth; Schwikowski, Margit

Produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuel and biomass, black carbon (BC) contributes to Arctic warming by reducing snow albedo and thus triggering a snow-albedo feedback leading to increased snowmelt. Therefore, it is of high importance to assess past BC emissions to better understand and constrain their role. However, only a few long-term BC records are available from the Arctic, mainly originating from Greenland ice cores. Here, we present the first long-term and high-resolution refractory black carbon (rBC) record from Svalbard, derived from the analysis of two ice cores drilled at the Lomonosovfonna ice field in 2009 (LF-09) and 2011 (LF-11) and covering 800 years of atmospheric emissions. Our results show that rBC concentrations strongly increased from 1860 on due to anthropogenic emissions and reached two maxima, at the end of the 19th century and in the middle of the 20th century. No increase in rBC concentrations during the last decades was observed, which is corroborated by atmospheric measurements elsewhere in the Arctic but contradicts a previous study from another ice core from Svalbard. While melting may affect BC concentrations during periods of high temperatures, rBC concentrations remain well preserved prior to the 20th century due to lower temperatures inducing little melt. Therefore, the preindustrial rBC record (before 1800), along with ammonium (NHinline-formula M1inlinescrollmathml normal 4 + ) 12pt15ptsvg-formulamathimg8f51f6dda87c0976f18e1cf0a11286b1 acp-18-12777-2018-ie00001.svg12pt15ptacp-18-12777-2018-ie00001.png , formate (HCOOinline-formula) and specific organic markers (vanillic acid, VA, and inline-formulap-hydroxybenzoic acid, inline-formulap-HBA), was used as a proxy for biomass burning. Despite numerous single events, no long-term trend was observed over the time period 1222–1800 for rBC and NHinline-formula M5inlinescrollmathml normal 4 + 8pt15ptsvg-formulamathimgaa378b71f34a6c23384fc0eb7c6e7621 acp-18-12777-2018-ie00002.svg8pt15ptacp-18-12777-2018-ie00002.png . In contrast, formate, VA, and inline-formulap-HBA experience multi-decadal peaks reflecting periods of enhanced biomass burning. Most of the background variations and single peak events are corroborated by other ice core records from Greenland and Siberia. We suggest that the paleofire record from the LF ice core primarily reflects biomass burning episodes from northern Eurasia, induced by decadal-scale climatic variations.



Osmont, Dimitri / Wendl, Isabel A. / Schmidely, Loïc / et al: An 800-year high-resolution black carbon ice core record from Lomonosovfonna, Svalbard. 2018. Copernicus Publications.


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