The Younger Dryas interval during the Last Glacial Termination was an abrupt return to glacial-like conditions punctuating the transition to a warmer, interglacial climate. Despite recent advances in the layer counting of ice-core records of the termination, the timing and length of the Younger Dryas remain controversial. Also, a steep rise in the concentration of atmospheric radiocarbon at the onset of the interval, recorded primarily in the Cariaco Basin, has been difficult to reconcile with simulations of the Younger Dryas carbon cycle. Here we discuss a radiocarbon chronology from a tree-ring record covering the Late Glacial period that has not been absolutely dated. We correlate the chronology to ice-core timescales using the common cosmic production signal in tree-ring 14C and ice-core 10Be concentrations. The results of this correlation suggest that the Cariaco record may be biased by changes in the concentration of radiocarbon in the upper ocean during the early phase of the Younger Dryas climate reversal in the Cariaco basin. This bias in the marine record may also affect the accuracy of a widely used radiocarbon calibration curve over this interval. Our tree-ring-based radiocarbon record is easily reconciled with simulated production rates and carbon-cycle changes associated with reduced ocean ventilation during the Younger Dryas.
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We thank M. Schaub for his contribution to the building of the Swiss Late Glacial tree-ring chronology supported by the Department of Construction of Canton Zurich, Switzerland. This work was supported by the Swedish Research Council. B.K. and M.F. were funded by the ESF (European Science Foundation), EuroCores project ‘EuroClimate’ (Kr 726/3). Initial tree-ring work of M.F. was funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (DEKLIM—PROSIMUL1/01LD0002).
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Muscheler, R., Kromer, B., Björck, S. et al. Tree rings and ice cores reveal 14C calibration uncertainties during the Younger Dryas. Nature Geosci 1, 263–267 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo128
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