Large Variations in Southern Hemisphere Biomass Burning During the Last 650 Years

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Science  02 Dec 2010:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1197257


We present a 650-year Antarctic ice core record of concentration and isotopic ratios (δ13C and δ 18O) of atmospheric carbon monoxide. Concentrations decreased by ~25% (14 ppbv) from mid-1300s to the 1600s, then recovered completely by the late 1800s. δ13C and δ18O decreased by about 2‰ and 4‰ respectively from mid-1300s to the 1600s, then increase by about 2.5‰ and 4‰ by the late 1800s. These observations and isotope mass balance model results imply that large variations in the degree of biomass burning in the Southern Hemisphere occurred during the last 650 years, with a decrease by about 50% in the 1600s, an increase of about 100% by the late 1800s, and another decrease by about 70% from the late 1800s to present day.