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Is there an isotopic signature of the Anthropocene?

Dean, JR; Leng, MJ; Mackay, AW; (2014) Is there an isotopic signature of the Anthropocene? The Anthropocene Review , 1 (3) pp. 276-287. 10.1177/2053019614541631. Green open access

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Abstract

We consider whether the Anthropocene is recorded in the isotope geochemistry of the atmosphere, sediments, plants and ice cores, and the time frame during which any changes are recorded, presenting examples from the literature. Carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios have become more depleted since the 19th century, with the rate of change accelerating after ~AD 1950, linked to increased emissions from fossil fuel consumption and increased production of fertiliser. Lead isotope ratios demonstrate human pollution histories several millennia into the past, while sulphur isotopes can be used to trace the sources of acid rain. Radioisotopes have been detectable across the planet since the 1950s because of atmospheric nuclear bomb tests and can be used as a stratigraphic marker. We find there is isotopic evidence of widespread human impact on the global environment, but different isotopes have registered changes at different times and at different rates.

Type: Article
Title: Is there an isotopic signature of the Anthropocene?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/2053019614541631
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2053019614541631
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Authors 2014. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (http://www.uk.sagepub.com/aboutus/openaccess.htm).
Keywords: Anthropocene, carbon, human impact, isotopes, lead, nitrogen, radioisotopes, Suess effect, sulphur
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1456641
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