Updated ice core record captures industrial era carbon variability



In 1999, researchers published data from ice cores collected at Law Dome, a research site in East Antarctica. These data are distinguished by their high time resolution and by their overlap with modern measurements, providing one of the most important records of how the atmosphere's chemical composition changed over the past 1000 years. Air trapped in bubbles in the ice core let researchers measure the concentration of carbon dioxide and other gases and analyze the ratio of carbon-13 to carbon-12 isotopes in the atmospheric carbon dioxide. Burning fossil fuel releases carbon dioxide that is depleted in carbon-13 isotopes, and the Law Dome record provided evidence that modern increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are due to anthropogenic activity. In a new study, Rubino et al., a team that includes some of the authors from the original analysis, use novel tools and techniques to update their ice core record.