Climate Science

A Preindustrial Sulfur Archive

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Science  31 May 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5573, pp. 1571-1573
DOI: 10.1126/science.296.5573.1571e

Carbonyl sulfide (OCS) is the most abundant sulfur-containing gas in the atmosphere, and it is an important component in the cycling of carbon disulfide and dimethylsulfide. Uncertainties in estimating the sources and sinks of OCS make it difficult to identify trends in its atmospheric budget and to assess whether anthropogenic sources are perturbing the natural cycle. Aydin et al. have extracted air samples from the Antarctic Siple Dome C ice core and measured the OCS concentration of air from 1620 to 1700. They find that atmospheric concentrations of OCS have increased by approximately 25% since preindustrial times. They also observed differences of about 15% in samples from 200 and 300 years ago, indicating either that there are large natural variations in the OCS cycle or that human perturbation of the cycle occurred then as well, perhaps because of biomass burning. — HJS

Geophys. Res. Lett.29, 10.1029/2002GL014796 (2002).

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