Articles | Volume 12, issue 1
Research article
15 Jan 2016
Research article |  | 15 Jan 2016

Synchronizing the Greenland ice core and radiocarbon timescales over the Holocene – Bayesian wiggle-matching of cosmogenic radionuclide records

F. Adolphi and R. Muscheler

Abstract. Investigations of past climate dynamics rely on accurate and precise chronologies of the employed climate reconstructions. The radiocarbon dating calibration curve (IntCal13) and the Greenland ice core chronology (GICC05) represent two of the most widely used chronological frameworks in paleoclimatology of the past  ∼  50 000 years. However, comparisons of climate records anchored on these chronologies are hampered by the precision and accuracy of both timescales. Here we use common variations in the production rates of 14C and 10Be recorded in tree-rings and ice cores, respectively, to assess the differences between both timescales during the Holocene. Compared to earlier work, we employ a novel statistical approach which leads to strongly reduced and yet, more robust, uncertainty estimates. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the inferred timescale differences are robust independent of (i) the applied ice core 10Be records, (ii) assumptions of the mode of 10Be deposition, as well as (iii) carbon cycle effects on 14C, and (iv) in agreement with independent estimates of the timescale differences. Our results imply that the GICC05 counting error is likely underestimated during the most recent 2000 years leading to a dating bias that propagates throughout large parts of the Holocene. Nevertheless, our analysis indicates that the GICC05 counting error is generally a robust uncertainty measurement but care has to be taken when treating it as a nearly Gaussian error distribution. The proposed IntCal13-GICC05 transfer function facilitates the comparison of ice core and radiocarbon dated paleoclimate records at high chronological precision.

Short summary
Here we employ common variations in tree-ring 14C and Greenland ice core 10Be records to synchronize the Greenland ice core (GICC05) and the radiocarbon (IntCal13) timescale over the Holocene. We propose a transfer function between both timescales that allows continuous comparisons between radiocarbon dated and ice core climate records at unprecedented chronological precision.