Ammonium concentration in ice cores: A new proxy for regional temperature reconstruction?

Authors

  • T. Kellerhals,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
    2. Laboratory of Radiochemistry and Environmental Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen, Switzerland
    3. Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
    4. Now at Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
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  • S. Brütsch,

    1. Laboratory of Radiochemistry and Environmental Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen, Switzerland
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  • M. Sigl,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
    2. Laboratory of Radiochemistry and Environmental Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen, Switzerland
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  • S. Knüsel,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
    2. Laboratory of Radiochemistry and Environmental Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen, Switzerland
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  • H. W. Gäggeler,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
    2. Laboratory of Radiochemistry and Environmental Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen, Switzerland
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  • M. Schwikowski

    1. Laboratory of Radiochemistry and Environmental Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen, Switzerland
    2. Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
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Abstract

[1] We present a reconstruction of tropical South American temperature anomalies over the last ∼1600 years. The reconstruction is based on a highly resolved and carefully dated ammonium record from an ice core that was drilled in 1999 on Nevado Illimani in the eastern Bolivian Andes. Concerning the relevant processes governing the observed correlation between ammonium concentrations and temperature anomalies, we discuss anthropogenic emissions, biomass burning, and precipitation changes but clearly favor a temperature-dependent source strength of the vegetation in the Amazon Basin. That given, the reconstruction reveals that Medieval Warm Period– and Little Ice Age–type episodes are distinguishable in tropical South America, a region for which until now only very limited temperature proxy data have been available. For the time period from about 1050 to 1300 AD, our reconstruction shows relatively warm conditions that are followed by cooler conditions from the 15th to the 18th century, when temperatures dropped by up to 0.6°C below the 1961–1990 average. The last decades of the past millennium are characterized again by warm temperatures that seem to be unprecedented in the context of the last ∼1600 years.

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