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Reconstruction of paleofire emissions over the past millennium from measurements of ice core acetylene

Author(s): Melinda R. Nicewonger, Murat Aydin, Michael J. Prather, Eric S. Saltzman
Year Published: 2020
Description:

Acetylene is a short‐lived trace gas produced during combustion of fossil fuels, biomass, and biofuels. Biomass burning is likely the only major source of acetylene in the preindustrial atmosphere, making ice core acetylene a powerful tool for reconstructing paleofire emissions. Here we present a 2,000‐year atmospheric record of acetylene reconstructed from analysis of air bubbles trapped in Greenland and Antarctic ice cores and infer pyrogenic acetylene emissions using a chemistry transport model. From 0 to 1500 CE, Antarctic acetylene averages 36 ± 1 pmol mol−1 (mean ± 1 SE), roughly double the annual mean over Antarctica today. Antarctic acetylene declines during the Little Ice Age by over 50% to 17 ± 2 pmol mol−1 from 1650 to 1750 CE. Acetylene over Greenland declines less dramatically over the same period. Modeling results suggest that pyrogenic acetylene emissions during 1000-1500 CE were sustained at rates significantly greater than modern day and declined by over 50% during the 1650-1750 CE period.

Citation: Nicewonger, Melinda R.; Aydin, Murat; Prather, Michael J.; Saltzman, Eric S. 2020. Reconstruction of paleofire emissions over the past millennium from measurements of ice core acetylene. Geophysical Research Letters 47(3):e2019GL085101.
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Fire History
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 20831
FRAMES RCS number: 60699
Record updated: Mar 12, 2020