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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 05 Jun 2019

Submitted as: research article | 05 Jun 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript was accepted for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

The SP19 Chronology for the South Pole Ice Core – Part 1: Volcanic matching and annual-layer counting

Dominic A. Winski1,2, Tyler J. Fudge3, David G. Ferris4, Erich C. Osterberg4, John M. Fegyveresi5, Jihong Cole-Dai6, Zayta Thundercloud4, Thomas S. Cox7, Karl J. Kreutz1,2, Nikolas Ortman4, Christo Buizert8, Jenna Epifanio8, Edward J. Brook8, Ross Beaudette9, Jeff Severinghaus9, Todd Sowers10, Eric J. Steig3, Emma C. Kahle3, Tyler R. Jones11, Valerie Morris11, Murat Aydin12, Melinda R. Nicewonger12, Kimberley A. Casey13,a, Richard B. Alley10, Edwin D. Waddington3, Nels A. Iverson14, Ryan C. Bay15, and Joseph M. Souney16 Dominic A. Winski et al.
  • 1School of Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, Maine, USA
  • 2Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, Maine, USA
  • 3Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  • 4Department of Earth Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
  • 5U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
  • 6Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota, USA
  • 7Physical Science Department, Butte College, Oroville, California, USA
  • 8College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA
  • 9Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
  • 10Department of Geosciences and Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA
  • 11Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 12Department of Earth System Science, UC Irvine, Irvine, California, USA
  • 13Earth Sciences Division, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
  • 14New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, Socorro, New Mexico, USA
  • 15Physics Department, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA
  • 16Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, USA
  • anow at: National Land Imaging Program, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA

Abstract. The South Pole Ice Core (SPICEcore) was drilled in 2014–2016 to provide a detailed multi-proxy archive of paleoclimate conditions in East Antarctica during the Holocene and late Pleistocene. Interpretation of these records requires an accurate depth-age relationship. Here, we present the SP19 timescale for the age of the ice of SPICEcore. SP19 is synchronized to the WD2014 chronology from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide (WAIS Divide) ice core using stratigraphic matching of 251 volcanic events. These events indicate an age of 54 302 ± 519 years BP (before the year 1950) at the bottom of SPICEcore. Annual layers identified in sodium and magnesium ions to 11 341 BP were used to interpolate between stratigraphic volcanic tie points, yielding an annually-resolved chronology through the Holocene. Estimated timescale uncertainty during the Holocene is less than 18 years relative to WD2014, with the exception of the interval between 1800 to 3100 BP when uncertainty estimates reach ± 25 years due to widely spaced volcanic tie points. Prior to the Holocene, uncertainties remain within 124 years relative to WD2014. Results show an average Holocene accumulation rate of 7.4 cm/yr (water equivalent). The time variability of accumulation rate is consistent with expectations for steady-state ice flow through the modern spatial pattern of accumulation rate. Time variations in nitrate concentration, nitrate seasonal amplitude, and δ15N of N2 in turn are as expected for the accumulation-rate variations. The highly variable yet well-constrained Holocene accumulation history at the site can help improve scientific understanding of deposition-sensitive climate proxies such as δ15N of N2 and photolyzed chemical compounds.

Dominic A. Winski et al.
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Dominic A. Winski et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
A deep ice core was recently drilled at the South Pole to understand past variations in the earth's climate. To understand the information contained within the ice, we present the relationship between the depth and age of the ice in the South Pole Ice Core. We found that the oldest ice in our record is from 54 302 ± 519 years ago. Our results show that, on average, 7.4 centimeters of snow falls at the South Pole each year.
A deep ice core was recently drilled at the South Pole to understand past variations in the...