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The SP19 chronology for the South Pole Ice Core - Part 2: gas chronology, Δage, and smoothing of atmospheric records


Abstract. A new ice core drilled at the South Pole provides a 54 000-year paleoenvironmental record including the composition of the past atmosphere. This paper describes the SP19 chronology for the South Pole atmospheric gas record and complements a previous paper (Winski et al., 2019) describing the SP19 ice chronology. The gas chronology is based on a discrete methane (CH4) record with 20- to 190-year resolution. To construct the gas time scale abrupt changes in atmospheric CH4 during the glacial period and centennial CH4 variability during the Holocene were used to synchronize the South Pole gas record with analogous data from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide ice core. Stratigraphic matching based on visual optimization was verified using an automated matching algorithm. The South Pole ice core recovers all expected changes in CH4 based on previous records. Smoothing of the atmospheric record due to gas transport in the firn is evident but relatively minor, despite the deep lock-in depth in the modern South Pole firn column. The new gas chronology, in combination with the existing ice age scale from Winski et al. (2019), allows a model-independent reconstruction of the gas age-ice age difference through the whole record, which will be useful for testing firn densification models.

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