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Ultra-high-resolution seasonality of trace-ion species and oxygen isotope ratios in Antarctic firn over four annual cycles

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Ultra-high-resolution firn-core records covering four annual cycles of oxygen isotope ratios (18O) and trace-ion species were generated from a high-accumulation site on Law Dome, East Antarctica. Event-scale dating of the records was established using hourly snow accumulation measurements from a co-located automatic weather station (AWS). These net accumulation events were used to examine the seasonal timing of 18O and a suite of trace-ion species including marine biogenic sulphur compounds (methanesulphonic acid (MSA), non-sea salt sulphate), nitrate and major sea-salt species (sodium, chloride, magnesium). The ultra-high-resolution nature of this study and independent dating scale provide an opportunity to examine exact timings in the seasonality of each species. The traditional summer-maximum species of 18O and MSA show consistent relative phasing during mid-summer over the four annual cycles. Nitrate shows an erratic seasonal cycle with a general trend characterized by narrow peaks during spring and early summer, preceding the mid-summer peaks in 18O and MSA. Non-sea-salt sulphate cycles indicate similar characteristics to MSA signals during summer, but are more comparable to nitrate signals during spring, autumn and winter. This suggests the summer non-sea-salt sulphate signal is driven by biological activity, although this species appears to be linked with nitrate signals outside the summer season. Finally, the sea-salt species indicate a seasonal cycle characterized by maximum concentrations during spring, winter and autumn. Event-scale dating of the firn-core records allows direct comparisons between the seasonal cycles and meteorological conditions. Contemporaneous local air-temperature measurements are compared with the high-resolution 18O record. This allows a detailed investigation of the relationship between site temperature and 18O signals in the ice core.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2004

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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