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Carbonyl sulfide hydrolysis in Antarctic ice cores and an atmospheric history for the last 8000 years


Carbonyl sulfide (COS) was measured in Antarctic ice core samples from the Byrd, Siple Dome, Taylor Dome, and West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide sites covering the last 8000 years of the Holocene. COS levels decrease downcore in most of these ice cores. The magnitude of the downcore trends varies among the different ice cores and is related to the thermal histories of the ice sheet at each site. We hypothesize that this is due to the temperature-dependent hydrolysis of COS that occurs in situ. We use a one-dimensional ice flow and heat flux model to infer temperature histories for the ice core samples from different sites and empirically determine the kinetic parameters for COS hydrolysis. We estimate e-folding lifetimes for COS hydrolysis ranging from 102 years to 106 years over a temperature range of 0°C to - 50°C. The reaction kinetics are used to estimate and correct for the in situ COS loss, allowing us to reconstruct paleoatmospheric COS trends during the mid-to-late Holocene. The results suggest a slow, long-term increase in atmospheric COS that may have started as early as 5000 years ago. Given that the largest term in the COS budget is uptake by terrestrial plants, this could indicate a decline in terrestrial productivity during the late Holocene.

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