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Atmospheric Methane and Nitrous Oxide of the Late Pleistocene from Antarctic Ice Cores

Science  25 Nov 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5752, pp. 1317-1321
DOI: 10.1126/science.1120132

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Abstract

The European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica Dome C ice core enables us to extend existing records of atmospheric methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) back to 650,000 years before the present. A combined record of CH4 measured along the Dome C and the Vostok ice cores demonstrates, within the resolution of our measurements, that preindustrial concentrations over Antarctica have not exceeded 773 ± 15 ppbv (parts per billion by volume) during the past 650,000 years. Before 420,000 years ago, when interglacials were cooler, maximum CH4 concentrations were only about 600 ppbv, similar to lower Holocene values. In contrast, the N2O record shows maximum concentrations of 278 ± 7 ppbv, slightly higher than early Holocene values.

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