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Keywords:

  • ice core chronology;
  • stratigraphic dating;
  • annual layer counting

[1] We present a new common stratigraphic timescale for the North Greenland Ice Core Project (NGRIP) and GRIP ice cores. The timescale covers the period 7.9–14.8 kyr before present and includes the Bølling, Allerød, Younger Dryas, and early Holocene periods. We use a combination of new and previously published data, the most prominent being new high-resolution Continuous Flow Analysis (CFA) impurity records from the NGRIP ice core. Several investigators have identified and counted annual layers using a multiparameter approach, and the maximum counting error is estimated to be up to 2% in the Holocene part and about 3% for the older parts. These counting error estimates reflect the number of annual layers that were hard to interpret, but not a possible bias in the set of rules used for annual layer identification. As the GRIP and NGRIP ice cores are not optimal for annual layer counting in the middle and late Holocene, the timescale is tied to a prominent volcanic event inside the 8.2 kyr cold event, recently dated in the DYE-3 ice core to 8236 years before A. D. 2000 (b2k) with a maximum counting error of 47 years. The new timescale dates the Younger Dryas-Preboreal transition to 11,703 b2k, which is 100–150 years older than according to the present GRIP and NGRIP timescales. The age of the transition matches the GISP2 timescale within a few years, but viewed over the entire 7.9–14.8 kyr section, there are significant differences between the new timescale and the GISP2 timescale. The transition from the glacial into the Bølling interstadial is dated to 14,692 b2k. The presented timescale is a part of a new Greenland ice core chronology common to the DYE-3, GRIP, and NGRIP ice cores, named the Greenland Ice Core Chronology 2005 (GICC05). The annual layer thicknesses are observed to be log-normally distributed with good approximation, and compared to the early Holocene, the mean accumulation rates in the Younger Dryas and Bølling periods are found to be 47 ± 2% and 88 ± 2%, respectively.