Holocene black carbon in New Zealand lake sediment records

Sandra O. Brugger (Corresponding author), David B. McWethy, Nathan J. Chellman, Matiu Prebble, Colin J. Courtney Mustaphi, Sabine Eckhardt, Andreas Plach, Andreas Stohl, Janet M. Wilmshurst, Joseph R. McConnell, Cathy Whitlock

Publications: Contribution to journalArticle


Black carbon emitted from incomplete combustion of biomass and fossil fuel burning is an important aerosol; however, available long-term black carbon data are limited to remote polar and high-alpine ice cores from few geographic regions. Black carbon records from lake sediments fill geographic gaps but such records are still scarce, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere. We applied a new incandescence-based methodology to develop Holocene refractory black carbon (rBC) records from four lake-sediment archives in New Zealand and compare these with macroscopic charcoal records. Our rBC records suggest periods with substantial rBC deposition during the Holocene before human arrival in the 13th century reflecting long-range transport and possibly local wetland fires. With Polynesian settlement, rBC deposition increased on the South Island in agreement with macroscopic charcoal records, and it is this period of burning that is proposed as the source of rBC increases evident in Antarctic ice cores. However, sites on the North Island show no contemporaneous rBC increase suggesting regional differences in biomass burning patterns between the North and South islands. None of the New Zealand records show an increase in rBC from fossil fuel sources during the Industrial Era post-1850 CE.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108491
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 105206 Meteorology


  • Biomass burning aerosols
  • Combustion products
  • Fire emissions
  • Holocene
  • Organic geochemistry
  • Paleofire
  • Paleolimnology
  • Refractory black carbon (rBC)
  • Southern Ocean


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