GISP2 D ice core

This ice core was drilled in 1989-1993 by The Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2). GISP2 recovered a 3053.44-m-deep ice core that penetrated 1.5 m into the underlying bedrock.

ORIGINATOR (CONTRIBUTORS): Mayewski, P.A.; Meeker, L.D.; Twickler, M.S.; Whitlow, S.I.; Yang, Q.; Lyons, W.B.; Prentice, M.

The Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 glaciochemical series (sodium, potassium, ammonium, calcium, magnesium, sulfate, nitrate, and chloride) provides a unique view of the chemistry of the atmosphere and the history of atmospheric circulation over both the high latitudes and mid-low latitudes of the northern hemisphere. Interpretation of this record reveals a diverse array of environmental signatures that include the documentation of anthropogenically derived pollutants, volcanic and biomass burning events, storminess over marine surfaces, continental aridity and biogenic source strength plus information related to the controls on both high- and low-frequency climate events of the last 110,000 years. Climate forcings investigated include changes in insolation of the order of the major orbital cycles that control the long-term behavior of atmospheric circulation patterns through changes in ice volume (sea level), events such as the Heinrich events (massive discharges of icebergs first identified in t he marine record) that are found to operate on a 6100-year cycle due largely to the lagged response of ice sheets to changes in insolation and consequent glacier dynamics, and rapid climate change events (massive reorganizations of atmospheric circulation) that are demonstrated to operate on 1450-year cycles. Changes in insolation and associated positive feedbacks related to ice sheets may assist in explaining favorable time periods and controls on the amplitude of massive rapid climate change events. Explanation for the exact timing and global synchroneity of these events is, however, more complicated. Preliminary evidence points to possible solar variability-climate associations for these events and perhaps others that are embedded in our ice-core-derived atmospheric circulation records.


Mayewski, P.A., L.D. Meeker, M.S. Twickler, S.I. Whitlow, Q. Yang, W.B. Lyons, and M. Prentice. 1997. Major features and forcing of high-latitude northern hemisphere atmospheric circulation using a 110,000-year-long glaciochemical series. Journal of Geophysical Research 102:26345-26366. doi: 10.1029/96JC03365

Taylor, K.C., P.A. Mayewski, M.S. Twickler, and S.I. Whitlow. 1996. Biomass burning recorded in the GISP2 ice core: A record from eastern Canada? The Holocene 6(1):1-6.

Yang, Q., P.A. Mayewski, S.I. Whitlow, M.S. Twickler, M.C. Morrison, R.W. Talbot, J.E. Dibb, and E. Linder. 1995. Global perspective of nitrate flux in ice cores. Journal of Geophysical Research 100:5113-5121.

Mayewski, P.A., W.B. Lyons, M.J. Spencer, M.S. Twickler, C.F. Buck, and S.I. Whitlow. 1990. An ice core record of atmospheric response to anthropogenic sulphate and nitrate. Nature 346:554-556.

GISP2 LA-ICP-MS data: YD Event

Sharon Sneed. 2017. Ultra-High Resolution Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) measurements of Younger Dryas onset in the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2) ice core, Greenland. Arctic Data Center. doi:10.18739/A2VC2G.

CONTRIBUTORS: Sharon Sneed, Nicole Spaulding, Paul Mayewski, Andrei Kurbatov

ONLINE RESOURCE (When Citing Data):


Spaulding, N., Sneed, S., Handley, M., Bohleber, P., Kurbatov, A., and Mayewski, P. A new multi-element method for la-icp-ms data acquisition from glacier ice cores. in review ES&T, 2017.

GISP2 LA-ICP-MS data: DO Rapid Warming Event

This data set contains the results of Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) performed on an archive of the GISP2 ice core containing the rapid climate warming of Dansgaard-Oeschger Event 21. The ice core was 6.0 meters in length, with a total of 4.24 m sampled at 121 µm resolution. The data are total concentrations of sodium (Na), calcium (Ca), iron (Fe), and potassium (K) given in counts per second (cps) and parts per billion (ppb).

CONTRIBUTORS: Skylar Haines, Paul Mayewski, Andrei Kurbatov

ONLINE RESOURCE (When Citing Data):


Sneed, S. B, et al. 2015. New LA-ICP-MS cryocell and calibration technique for sub- millimeter analysis of ice core. Journal of Glaciology 61(226): 233-242. doi: 10.3189/2015JoG14J139

Kangerlussuaq data: YD ET Event

CONTRIBUTORS: Andrei Kurbatov, Paul Mayewski


Kurbatov, A. V. et al. (2010), Discovery of a nanodiamond-rich layer in the Greenland ice sheet, Journal of Glaciology, 56(199), 747–757.


CONTRIBUTORS: Sodium, ammonium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, nitrate, sulfate and iron analyzed by io chromatography at the University of New Hampshire and and oxygen isotopes analyzed by W. Dansgaard (University of Copenhagen) from the 20D ice core (1984.5 - 1767 C.E.).

20D was electromechanically drilled (B. Koci) in 1984 from a site (65.01N, 44.87W, 2615 m a.s.l) 40 km southwest and up-ice from Dye 3.

This was the first ice core to demonstrate that anthropogenic source sulfate and nitrate are transported long distances. All drilling was powered by solar panels to avoid the possibility of local source contamination.

Research supported by EPA contract APP-0306-1983.

Examples of publications:

Mayewski, P.A., Lyons, W.B., Spencer, M.J., Twickler, M.S., Koci, B. Dansgaard, Davidson, C. and Honrath, R., 1986, Sulfate and nitrate concentrations from a South Greenland ice core, Science 232: 975-977.

Mayewski, P.A., Spencer, M.J., Lyons, W.B. and Twickler, M.S. 1987, Seasonal and spatial trends in South Greenland snow chemistry, Atmospheric Environment 21(4): 863-869.

Lyons, W.B., Mayewski, P.A., Spencer, M.J., Twickler, M.S. and Graedel, T.E., 1990, A Northern Hemispheric volcanic chemistry (1869-1984) record and climatic implications using a south Greenland ice core, Annals of Glaciol. 14: 176-182.

Lyons, W.B., Mayewski, P.A., Spencer, M.J. and Twickler, M.S., 1990, Nitrate concentrations in snow from remote areas: Implications for the global NOx flux, Biogeochemistry,9,211-222.

Mayewski, P. A., Spencer, M. J. and Lyons, W.B., 1992, A review of glaciochemistry with particular emphasis on the recent record of sulfate and nitrate. In Trace Gases and the Biosphere, Papers arising from the 1988 OIED Global Change Institute, Snowmass, CO., Moore III, Berrien and David Schimel, eds, 177-199.

Davidson, C.I., Jaffrezo, J.L. and Mayewski, P.A., 1992, Arctic air pollution as reflected in snowpits and ice cores, Pollution of the Arctic Atmosphere, ed. W. Sturges, Elsevier, 43-95.

Mayewski, P.A., Lyons, W.B., Spencer, M.J., Twickler, M.S., Buck, C.F. and Whitlow, S., 1990, An ice core record of atmospheric response to anthropogenic sulphate and nitrate, Nature 346(6284): 554-556.

Mayewski, P.A., Holdsworth, G., Spencer, M.J., Whitlow, S., Twickler, M.S., Morrison, M.C., K. F. Ferland and Meeker, L.D., 1993, Ice core sulfate from three northern hemisphere sites: Source and temperature forcing implications, Atmosph. Environ. 27A (17/18): 2915-2919.