First continuous phosphate record from Greenland ice cores

Kjær, H. A.; Svensson, A.; Vallelonga, P.; Kettner, E.; Schüpbach, S.; Bigler, M.; Steffensen, J. P.; Hansson, M. E. (2012). First continuous phosphate record from Greenland ice cores. Climate of the past, 7(6), pp. 3959-3989. Göttingen: Copernicus Publications 10.5194/cpd-7-3959-2011

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A continuous and highly sensitive absorption method for detection of soluble phosphate
in ice cores has been developed using a molybdate reagent and a 2m liquid waveg-
uide (LWCC). The method is optimized to meet the low concentrations of phosphate
in Greenland ice, it has a detection limit of around 0.1ppb and a depth resolution of
approximately 2cm. The new method has been applied to obtain phosphate concen-
trations from segments of two Northern Greenland ice cores: from a shallow firn core
covering the most recent 120yr and from the recently obtained deep NEEM ice core
in which sections from the late glacial period have been analysed. Phosphate con-
centrations in 20th century ice are around 0.32ppb with no indication of anthropogenic
influence in the most recent ice. In the glacial part of the NEEM ice core concentra-
tions in the cold stadial periods are significantly higher, in the range of 6–24ppb, while
interstadial ice concentrations are around 2ppb. In the shallow firn core, a strong cor-
relation between concentrations of phosphate and insoluble dust suggests a similar
deposition pattern for phosphate and dust. In the glacial ice, phosphate and dust also
correlate quite strongly, however it is most likely that this correlation originates from the phosphate binding to dust during transport, with only a fraction coming directly from dust. Additionally a constant ratio between phosphate and potassium concentrations shows evidence of a possible biogenic land source.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics

UniBE Contributor:

Schüpbach, Simon, Bigler, Matthias




Copernicus Publications




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:44

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:13

Publisher DOI:




URI: (FactScience: 226017)

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