Articles | Volume 11, issue 3
The Cryosphere, 11, 1297–1309, 2017
The Cryosphere, 11, 1297–1309, 2017

Research article 31 May 2017

Research article | 31 May 2017

Calibrated cryo-cell UV-LA-ICPMS elemental concentrations from the NGRIP ice core reveal abrupt, sub-annual variability in dust across the GI-21.2 interstadial period

Damiano Della Lunga1,2, Wolfgang Müller1, Sune Olander Rasmussen3, Anders Svensson3, and Paul Vallelonga3 Damiano Della Lunga et al.
  • 1Royal Holloway University of London, Egham TW20 0EX, UK
  • 2Alfred Wegener Instiutute for Polar and Marine Research, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 3Centre for Ice and Climate, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark

Abstract. Several abrupt shifts from periods of extreme cold (Greenland stadials, GS) to relatively warmer conditions (Greenland interstadials, GI) called Dansgaard–Oeschger events are recorded in the Greenland ice cores. Using cryo-cell UV-laser-ablation inductively coupled-plasma mass spectrometry (UV-LA-ICPMS), we analysed a 2.85 m NGRIP ice core section (2691.50–2688.65 m depth, age interval 84.86–85.09 ka b2k, thus covering  ∼  230 years) across the transitions of GI-21.2, a short-lived interstadial prior to interstadial GI-21.1. GI-21.2 is a  ∼  100-year long period with δ18O values 3–4 ‰ higher than the following  ∼  200 years of stadial conditions (GS-21.2), which precede the major GI-21.1 warming. We report concentrations of major elements indicative of dust and/or sea salt (Na, Fe, Al, Ca, Mg) at a spatial resolution of  ∼  200 µm, while maintaining detection limits in the low-ppb range, thereby achieving sub-annual time resolution even in deep NGRIP ice. We present an improved external calibration and quantification procedure using a set of five ice standards made from aqueous (international) standard solutions. Our results show that element concentrations decrease drastically (more than 10-fold) at the warming onset of GI-21.2 at the scale of a single year, followed by relatively low concentrations characterizing the interstadial part before gradually reaching again typical stadial values.

Short summary
In our study we combined the wealth of information provided by Greenland ice cores with an ultra-high-resolution technique well known in geoscience (laser ablation). Our set-up was developed and applied to investigate the variability in concentration of ions across a rapid climatic change from the oldest part of the last glaciation, showing that concentrations drop abruptly from cold to warm periods, representing a shift in atmospheric transport that happens even faster than previously thought.