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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 18, issue 17 | Copyright
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 12777-12795, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 06 Sep 2018

Research article | 06 Sep 2018

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

Dimitri Osmont1,2,3, Isabel A. Wendl1,2,3, Loïc Schmidely2,4, Michael Sigl1,2, Carmen P. Vega5,a, Elisabeth Isaksson6, and Margit Schwikowski1,2,3 Dimitri Osmont et al.
  • 1Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, 5232 Villigen, Switzerland
  • 2Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
  • 3Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
  • 4Climate and Environmental Physics, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
  • 5Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, 752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
  • 6Norwegian Polar Institute, Fram Centre, 9296 Tromsø, Norway
  • anow at: School of Physics and Centre for Geophysical Research, University of Costa Rica, 11501-2060, San José, Costa Rica

Abstract. 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 (NH4+), formate (HCOO) and specific organic markers (vanillic acid, VA, and p-hydroxybenzoic acid, p-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 NH4+. In contrast, formate, VA, and p-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.

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This study presents the first long-term and high-resolution refractory black carbon (rBC) ice core record from Svalbard, spanning the last 800 years. Our results show that rBC has had a predominant anthropogenic origin since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Europe and that rBC concentrations have been declining in the last 40 years. We discuss the impact of 20th century snowmelt on our record. We reconstruct biomass burning trends prior to 1800 by using a multi-proxy approach.
This study presents the first long-term and high-resolution refractory black carbon (rBC) ice...