Black carbon variability since preindustrial times in the eastern part of Europe reconstructed from Mt. Elbrus, Caucasus, ice cores
- 1Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IRD, Grenoble INP, IGE, 38000 Grenoble, France
- 2Univ. Grenoble-Alpes, CNRS, IRD, Observatoire des Sciences de l'Univers, Grenoble, France
- 3Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
- 4Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, CE Orme des Merisiers, 91190 Gif sur Yvette, France
- anow at: Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Korea University, Seoul, South Korea
Abstract. Black carbon (BC), emitted by fossil fuel combustion and biomass burning, is the second largest man-made contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide (Bond et al., 2013). However, limited information exists on its past emissions and atmospheric variability. In this study, we present the first high-resolution record of refractory BC (rBC, including mass concentration and size) reconstructed from ice cores drilled at a high-altitude eastern European site in Mt. Elbrus (ELB), Caucasus (5115 m a.s.l.). The ELB ice core record, covering the period 1825–2013, reflects the atmospheric load of rBC particles at the ELB site transported from the European continent with a larger rBC input from sources located in the eastern part of Europe. In the first half of the 20th century, European anthropogenic emissions resulted in a 1.5-fold increase in the ice core rBC mass concentrations with respect to its level in the preindustrial era (before 1850). The summer (winter) rBC mass concentrations increased 5-fold (3.3-fold) in 1960–1980, followed by a decrease until ∼ 2000. Over the last decade, the rBC signal for summertime slightly increased. We have compared the signal with the atmospheric BC load simulated using past BC emissions (ACCMIP and MACCity inventories) and taken into account the contribution of different geographical regions to rBC distribution and deposition at the ELB site. Interestingly, the observed rBC variability in the ELB ice core record since the 1960s is not in perfect agreement with the simulated atmospheric BC load. Similar features between the ice core rBC record and the best scenarios for the atmospheric BC load support anthropogenic BC increase in the 20th century being reflected in the ELB ice core record. However, the peak in BC mass concentration observed in ∼ 1970 in the ice core is estimated to occur a decade later from past inventories. BC emission inventories for the period 1960s–1970s may be underestimating European anthropogenic emissions. Furthermore, for summertime snow layers of the 2000s, the slightly increasing trend of rBC deposition likely reflects recent changes in anthropogenic and biomass burning BC emissions in the eastern part of Europe. Our study highlights that the past changes in BC emissions of eastern Europe need to be considered in assessing ongoing air quality regulation.