Refractory black carbon (rBC) is an important contributor to radiative forcing, so quantifying rBC emissions and transport is critical for accurate climate modeling. Formed during incomplete combustion of fossil fuels or biofuels, rBC is emitted to the atmosphere from large wildfires and industrial sources where it can be transported and deposited globally. Ice cores have been used to reconstruct historical changes in biomass burning and industrial emissions but they are available only from glaciers and ice sheets, with reliable records longer than a few centuries generally limited to polar regions. Lake sediment cores provide a possible alternative to develop longer term, widely distributed records from mid- and low-latitude regions, albeit with lower temporal resolution and less directly linked to atmospheric concentrations than ice-core rBC records. Here, we present a new incandescence-based method for measuring rBC in lake sediment cores using the Single-Particle Soot Photometer. Compared to existing filter-based techniques, this highly sensitive method requires a much smaller sample size, resulting in reproducible, relatively high-temporal-resolution records of past rBC deposition.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the Sulo and Aileen Maki Endowment at DRI for funding this research. The authors thank P. Minyuk, G. Federov, G. Schwamborn, M. A. Haker, O. Juschus, and S. Quart for their help in recovering the sediment core from Lake El’Gygytgyn in 2003. The authors thank J. Stone and S. Brown for providing samples from Island Lake. The authors also thank the X. Wang and the Environmental Analysis Facility at DRI for the IMPROVE_A analysis and H. Moosmüller and A. Khlystov for lending their DMA for SP2 calibration. The authors thank the two reviewers for their insightful comments. This work has been possible with support from Region Franche-Comté (France), the CNRS PaleoMex-MISTRALS project, and Pole 2 of the MSHE. Collaboration among the scientists involved in this study resulted from networking within the PAGES Global Paleofire Working Group and was initiated as a result of the 2013 workshop held in Venice, Italy.
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