Articles | Volume 19, issue 12
Research article
12 Dec 2023
Research article |  | 12 Dec 2023

Reconstructing atmospheric H2 over the past century from bi-polar firn air records

John D. Patterson, Murat Aydin, Andrew M. Crotwell, Gabrielle Pétron, Jeffery P. Severinghaus, Paul B. Krummel, Ray L. Langenfelds, Vasilii V. Petrenko, and Eric S. Saltzman

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Cited articles

Aydin, M., Britten, G. L., Montzka, S. A., Buizert, C., Primeau, F., Petrenko, V., Battle, M. B., Nicewonger, M. R., Patterson, J., Hmiel, B., and Saltzman, E. S.: Anthropogenic Impacts on Atmospheric Carbonyl Sulfide Since the 19th Century Inferred From Polar Firn Air and Ice Core Measurements, J. Geophys. Res.-Atmos., 125, 1–23,, 2020. 
Bader, H.: Density of Ice as a Function of Temperature and Stress, Special Report, US Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, 64, 1–6, (last access: May 2023), 1964. 
Battle, M., Bender, M., Sowers, T., Tans, P. P., Butler, J. H., Elkins, J. W., Ellis, J. T., Conway, T., Zhang, N., Lang, P., and Clarke, A. D.: Atmospheric gas concentrations over the past century measured in air from firn at the South Pole, Nature, 383, 231–235,, 1996. 
Buizert, C.: Studies of firn air, in: Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science 2, edited by: Elias, A. A. and Mock, C. J., Elsevier, 361–372, ISBN 9780444536433, 2013. 
Buizert, C. andSeveringhaus, J. P.: Dispersion in deep polar firn driven by synoptic-scale surface pressure variability, The Cryosphere, 10, 2099–2111,, 2016. 
Short summary
Atmospheric levels of molecular hydrogen (H2) can impact climate and air quality. Constraining past changes to atmospheric H2 is useful for understanding how H2 cycles through the Earth system and predicting the impacts of increasing anthropogenic emissions under the hydrogen economy. Here, we use the aging air found in the polar snowpack to reconstruct H2 levels over the past 100 years. We find that H2 levels increased by 30 % over Greenland and 60 % over Antarctica during the 20th century.