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Be) is formed from high energy collisions with N and O in the atmosphere, and because of its long lifetime and affinity for soluble aerosols, it precipitates out of the atmosphere quickly and can be measured in ice cores.

A simple vapor-pressure parameterization gives reasonable estimates of accumulation in the ice-sheet interior, but this is not necessarily the case close to the ice-sheet margin, where synoptic weather systems are important.

It also confirms that the so-called “AD 536 event” was a two-stage event, with two large eruptions, a Northern hemisphere eruption in AD 536, and tropical eruption in AD 540, causing over a decade of poor climate and hardship on human civilisation.

As we’ve mentioned previously, these eruptions may even have paved the way for the Justinian plague to take hold after AD 540, which is estimated to have killed about one third of the European population, and may also have impacted the Maya civilisation.

The new core was drilled by the North Greenland Ice Core Project (North GRIP, or NGRIP for short), which took seven years to drill, after overcoming many problems.2 The ice core is located 203 miles from the highest point on the ice sheet, on a north–north-west trending ice ridge.