Rapid changes in ice core gas records – Part 1: On the accuracy of methane synchronisation of ice cores P. Köhler Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, P.O. Box 120161, 27515 Bremerhaven, Germany
Received: 24 Jun 2010 – Accepted: 06 Aug 2010 – Published: 11 Aug 2010
Abstract. Methane synchronisation is a concept to align ice core records during rapid climate changes of the Dansgaard/Oeschger (D/O) events onto a common age scale.
However, atmospheric gases are recorded in ice cores with a log-normal-shaped age distribution probability density function, whose exact shape depends mainly on the accumulation rate on the drilling site.
This age distribution effectively shifts the mid-transition points of rapid changes in CH4 measured in situ in ice by about 58% of the width of the age distribution with respect to the atmospheric signal.
A minimum dating uncertainty, or artefact, in the CH4 synchronisation is therefore embedded in the concept itself, which was not accounted for in previous error estimates.
This synchronisation artefact between Greenland and Antarctic ice cores is for GRIP and Byrd less than 40 years, well within the dating uncertainty of CH4, and therefore does not calls the overall concept of the bipolar seesaw into question.
However, if the EPICA Dome C ice core is aligned via CH4 to NGRIP this synchronisation artefact is in the most recent unified ice core age scale (Lemieux-Dudon et al., 2010) for LGM climate conditions of the order of three centuries and might need consideration in future gas chronologies.
Citation: Köhler, P.: Rapid changes in ice core gas records – Part 1: On the accuracy of methane synchronisation of ice cores, Clim. Past Discuss., 6, 1453-1471, doi:10.5194/cpd-6-1453-2010, 2010.