Greenland records of aerosol source and atmospheric lifetime changes from the Eemian to the Holocene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The Northern Hemisphere experienced dramatic changes during the last glacial, featuring vast ice sheets and abrupt climate events, while high northern latitudes during the last interglacial (Eemian) were warmer than today. Here we use high-resolution aerosol records from the Greenland NEEM ice core to reconstruct the environmental alterations in aerosol source regions accompanying these changes. Separating source and transport effects, we find strongly reduced terrestrial biogenic emissions during glacial times reflecting net loss of vegetated area in North America. Rapid climate changes during the glacial have little effect on terrestrial biogenic aerosol emissions. A strong increase in terrestrial dust emissions during the coldest intervals indicates higher aridity and dust storm activity in East Asian deserts. Glacial sea salt aerosol emissions in the North Atlantic region increase only moderately (50%), likely due to sea ice expansion. Lower aerosol concentrations in Eemian ice compared to the Holocene are mainly due to shortened atmospheric residence time, while emissions changed little.


  • S. Schüpbach
  • H. Fischer
  • M. Bigler
  • T. Erhardt
  • G. Gfeller
  • D. Leuenberger
  • O. Mini
  • R. Mulvaney
  • N. J. Abram
  • L. Fleet
  • M. M. Frey
  • E. Thomas
  • A. Svensson
  • D. Dahl-Jensen
  • E. Kettner
  • H. Kjaer
  • I. Seierstad
  • J. P. Steffensen
  • S. O. Rasmussen
  • P. Vallelonga
  • M. Winstrup
  • A. Wegner
  • B. Twarloh
  • K. Wolff
  • K. Schmidt
  • K. Goto-Azuma
  • T. Kuramoto
  • M. Hirabayashi
  • J. Uetake
  • J. Zheng
  • J. Bourgeois
  • D. Fisher
  • D. Zhiheng
  • C. Xiao
  • M. Legrand
  • A. Spolaor
  • J. Gabrieli
  • C. Barbante
  • J. H. Kang
  • S. D. Hur
  • S. B. Hong
  • H. J. Hwang
  • S. Hong
  • M. Hansson
  • Y. Iizuka
  • I. Oyabu
  • O. Maselli
  • J. McConnell
  • E. W. Wolff
External organisations
  • University of Bern
  • British Antarctic Survey
  • Australian National University
  • University of Copenhagen
  • Alfred-Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam
  • National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR)
  • Geological Survey of Canada
  • University of Ottawa
  • University Grenoble Alpes
  • University of Venice
  • Korea Polar Research Institute
  • Inha University
  • Stockholm University
  • Desert Research Institute
  • University of Cambridge
  • Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research, Institute Chinese Academy of Sciences
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Climate Research
  • Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Article number1476
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec 1
Publication categoryResearch