Two-hundred-year record of biogenic sulfur in a south Greenland ice core (20D)
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Two-hundred-year record of biogenic sulfur in a south Greenland ice core (20D)

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The concentration of methanesulfonic acid (MSA) was determined in a shallow south central Greenland ice core (20D). This study provides a high-resolution record of the DMS-derived biogenic sulfur in Greenland precipitation over the past 200 years. The mean concentration of MSA is 3.30 ppb (σ = 2.38 ppb, n = 1134). The general trend of MSA is an increase from 3.01 to 4.10 ppb between 1767 and 1900, followed by a steady decrease to 2.34 ppb at the present time. This trend is in marked contrast to that of non-sea-salt sulfate (nss SO4 2−), which increases dramatically after 1900 due to the input of anthropogenic sulfur. The MSA fraction ((MSA/(MSA + nss SO4 2−))* 100) ranges from a mean of 15% in preindustrial ice to less than 5% in recent ice. These MSA fractions suggest that approximately 15 to 40% of the sulfur in recent Greenland ice is of biological origin. It is suggested that there is a significant low-latitude component to the biogenic sulfur in the core and that variations in the MSA fraction reflect changes in the relative strengths of low- and high-latitude inputs. The data show no evidence for a strong dependence of dimethyl sulfide (DMS) emissions on sea surface temperature during the last century. There is also no indication that the yield of MSA from DMS oxidation has been altered by increased NOx levels over the North Atlantic during this period.

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