Ice Record of δ13C for Atmospheric CH4 Across the Younger Dryas-Preboreal Transition

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Science  25 Aug 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5790, pp. 1109-1112
DOI: 10.1126/science.1126562

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We report atmospheric methane carbon isotope ratios (δ13CH4) from the Western Greenland ice margin spanning the Younger Dryas–to–Preboreal (YD-PB) transition. Over the recorded ∼800 years, δ13CH4 was around –46 per mil (‰); that is, ∼1‰ higher than in the modern atmosphere and ∼5.5‰ higher than would be expected from budgets without 13C-rich anthropogenic emissions. This requires higher natural 13C-rich emissions or stronger sink fractionation than conventionally assumed. Constant δ13CH4 during the rise in methane concentration at the YD-PB transition is consistent with additional emissions from tropical wetlands, or aerobic plant CH4 production, or with a multisource scenario. A marine clathrate source is unlikely.

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