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Measurements of methyl chloride (CH3Cl) in Antarctic polar ice and firn air are used to describe the variability of atmospheric CH3Cl during the past 300 years. Firn air results from South Pole and Siple Dome suggest that the atmospheric abundance of CH3Cl increased by about 10% in the 50 years prior to 1990. Ice core measurements from Siple Dome provide evidence for a cyclic natural variability on the order of 10%, with a period of about 110 years in phase with the 20th century rise inferred from firn air. Thus, the CH3Cl increase measured in firn air may largely be a result of natural processes, which may continue to affect the atmospheric CH3Cl burden during the 21st century.


This article was originally published in Geophysical Research Letters, volume 31, issue 2, in 2004. DOI: 10.1029/2003GL018750


American Geophysical Union



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