1Desert Research Institute, Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Reno, NV, USA
2Curtin University, Imaging and Applied Physics, Perth, WA, Australia
3Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755-8000, USA
4Norwegian Polar Institute, Tromsø, Norway
5NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
6University Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
*now at: Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Oslo, Norway
Abstract. Refractory black carbon aerosols (rBC) from biomass burning and fossil fuel combustion are deposited to the Antarctic ice sheet and preserve a history of emissions and long-range transport from low latitudes. Antarctic ice core rBC records may thus provide information with respect to past combustion aerosol emissions and atmospheric circulation. Here, we present six East Antarctic ice core records of rBC concentrations and fluxes covering the last two centuries with approximately annual resolution (cal. yr. 1800 to 2000). The ice cores were drilled in disparate regions of the high East Antarctic ice sheet, at different elevations and net snow accumulation rates. Annual rBC concentrations were log-normally distributed and geometric means of annual concentrations ranged from 0.10 to 0.18 μg kg−1. Average rBC fluxes were determined over the time periods 1800 to 2000 and 1963 to 2000 and ranged from 3.4 to 15.5 μg kg−1 m−2 a−1 and 3.6 to 21.8 μg kg−1 m−2 a−1 respectively. Geometric-mean concentrations spanning 1800 to 2000 increased linearly with elevation at a rate of 0.025 μg kg−1/500 m. Spectral analysis of the records revealed significant decadal scale variability, which at several sites was comparable to decadal ENSO variability.