University of Cambridge > > Quaternary Discussion Group (QDG) > Aerosols and Ancient History in Arctic and Alpine Ice

Aerosols and Ancient History in Arctic and Alpine Ice

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Aerosol records developed from polar ice cores are powerful tools for reconstructing the timing and extent of natural and anthropogenic changes in Earth’s environment during past centuries to millennia. Recent analytical advances enable rapid development of accurately dated aerosol records of sea spray, windblown dust, biomass burning, volcanism, and industrial activities. Here we used high-depth-resolution measurements in an array of 13 ice cores to develop a 3000-year, sub-annually resolved record of Arctic lead pollution extending from the Iron Age to present, including European Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Modern Period. After describing the methods used to develop these unique pollution records, we discuss inherent uncertainties in these and all ice-core aerosol records, and interpret our records in terms of their historical implications. We also present the first Alpine ice record of lead and antimony pollution during Antiquity.

This talk is part of the Quaternary Discussion Group (QDG) series.

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