1Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV, USA
2Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia
3Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, TAS, Australia
4Antarctic Climate and Environment CRC, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, Australia
5Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Lucas Heights, NSW, Australia
6Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, Greenbelt, MD, USA
7University Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Abstract. Refractory black carbon aerosols (rBC) emitted by biomass burning (fires) and fossil fuel combustion, affect global climate and atmospheric chemistry. In the Southern Hemisphere (SH), rBC is transported in the atmosphere from low latitudes to Antarctica and deposited to the polar ice sheet preserving a history of emissions and atmospheric transport. Here, we present two high-resolution Antarctic rBC ice core records drilled from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet divide and Law Dome on the periphery of the East Antarctic ice sheet. Separated by ~3500 km, the records span calendar years 1850–2001 and reflect the rBC distribution over the Indian and Pacific ocean sectors of the Southern Ocean. Highly correlated over the past 60 yr, the records show that coherent large-scale changes in SH rBC occurred at decadal to inter-annual time scales, notably in ENSO-like periodicities. Decadal trends in the records are similar to inventories of SH rBC emissions from grass fires and biofuels. The combined records suggest a large-scale reduction in rBC from 1950 to 1990 over the remote Southern Hemisphere.