Past precipitation rates are an important palaeoenvironmental indicator, often correlated to climate change, and it’s an essential parameter for many past climate studies or numerical glacier simulations. Ice cores provide us with lots of information beyond bubbles of gas in the ice.
Other ways of dating ice cores include geochemisty, layers of ash (tephra), electrical conductivity, and using numerical flow models to understand age-depth relationships.
This 19 cm long of GISP2 ice core from 1855 m depth shows annual layers in the ice.
Seasonal differences in the snow properties create layers – just like rings in trees.
Unfortunately, annual layers become harder to see deeper in the ice core.
If we want to reconstruct past air temperatures, one of the most critical parameters is the age of the ice being analysed.
Fortunately, ice cores preserve annual layers, making it simple to date the ice. Through analysis of ice cores, scientists learn about glacial-interglacial cycles, changing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and climate stability over the last 10,000 years. This picture shows a traversing field camp from December 2010. From top to bottom: * Levels of carbon dioxide (CO2). High rates of snow accumulation provide excellent time resolution, and bubbles in the ice core preserve actual samples of the world’s ancient atmosphere. By looking at past concentrations of greenhouse gasses in layers in ice cores, scientists can calculate how modern amounts of carbon dioxide and methane compare to those of the past, and, essentially, compare past concentrations of greenhouse gasses to temperature. Ice cores have been drilled in ice sheets worldwide, but notably in Greenland and Antarctica[4, 5]. * Solar variation at 65°N due to en: Milankovitch cycles (connected to 18O). Ice core records allow us to generate continuous reconstructions of past climate, going back at least 800,000 years. This section contains 11 annual layers with summer layers (arrowed) sandwiched between darker winter layers.