CSIRO Publishing blank image blank image blank image blank imageBooksblank image blank image blank image blank imageJournalsblank image blank image blank image blank imageAbout Usblank image blank image blank image blank imageShopping Cartblank image blank image blank image You are here: Journals > Environmental Chemistry   
Environmental Chemistry
Journal Banner
  Environmental problems - Chemical approaches
 
blank image Search
 
blank image blank image
blank image
 
  Advanced Search
   

Journal Home
About the Journal
Editorial Boards
Contacts
Content
Online Early
Current Issue
Just Accepted
All Issues
Virtual Issues
Special Issues
Research Fronts
Sample Issue
For Authors
General Information
Notice to Authors
Submit Article
Open Access
For Referees
Referee Guidelines
Review Article
For Subscribers
Subscription Prices
Customer Service

blue arrow e-Alerts
blank image
Subscribe to our Email Alert or RSS feeds for the latest journal papers.

red arrow Connect with us
blank image
facebook twitter youtube

 

Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 4(4)

Past atmospheric composition and chemistry from ice cores – progress and prospects

Eric W. Wolff A B, Manuel A. Hutterli A, Anna E. Jones A

A British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK.
B Corresponding author. Email: ewwo@bas.ac.uk
 
 Full Text
 PDF (272 KB)
 Export Citation
 Print
  

Environmental context. Investigating the past is often the only way we have of determining whether we have included all processes correctly into models, and then of verifying their behaviour. Ice cores provide an excellent way of finding out about the past. Air bubbles trapped in the ice allow us to directly access the concentration of stable trace gases, including important greenhouse gases. However, there are also tantalising possibilities to learn about aerosols and shorter-lived gases. This article describes some of the information we have already learnt from ice cores, but also describes the challenges that require understanding of atmospheric chemistry in the polar regions today in order to extract the full value of the records of the past trapped in the ice sheet.

Abstract. Ice cores provide the most direct evidence available about the past atmosphere. For long-lived trace gases, ice cores have provided clear evidence that in the last two centuries, concentrations of several greenhouse gases have risen well outside the natural range observed in the previous 650 000 years. Major natural changes are also observed between cold and warm periods. Aerosol components have to be interpreted in terms of changing sources, transport and deposition. When this is done, they can also supply evidence about crucial aspects of the past environment, including sea ice extent, trace element deposition to the ocean, and about the aerosols available for cloud nucleation, for example. It is much more difficult to extract information about shorter-lived chemical species. Information may be available in components such as nitrate and formaldehyde, but to extract that information, detailed modern atmospheric studies about air to snow transfer, preservation in the ice, and the link between the polar region boundary layer and other parts of the atmosphere are urgently required.

Keywords: Antarctic, Arctic, ice cores, paleoclimate.


   
    
Legal & Privacy | Contact Us | Help

CSIRO

© CSIRO 1996-2014