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Data Set ID:

Alkanes in Firn Air Samples, Antarctica and Greenland, Version 1

This data set contains ethane, propane, and n-butane measurements in firn air from the South Pole and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide in Antarctica, and from Summit, Greenland. The WAIS Divide and South Pole samples were collected in December to January of of 2005/06 and 2008/09, respectively. The Summit firn was sampled in the summer of 2006. Analyses were conducted on a gas chromatography - mass spectrometry (GC-MS) system at the University of California, Irvine. Measurements and the associated uncertainties are reported as dry air molar mixing ratios in part per trillion (ppt). The reported measurements for each sampling depth represent a mean of multiple measurements on more than one flask in most cases.

Data are available via FTP in Microsoft Excel (.xls) format.

Geographic Coverage

Spatial Coverage:
  • N: -79.47, S: -79.47, E: 112.09, W: 112.09

  • N: -90, S: -90, E: 0, W: 0

  • N: 72.5833, S: 72.5833, E: -38.3833, W: -38.3833

Spatial Resolution: Not Specified
Temporal Coverage:
  • 1 December 2005 to 31 January 2006
  • 1 June 2006 to 1 September 2006
  • 1 December 2008 to 31 January 2009
Temporal Resolution: Not specified
  • Atmospheric Chemistry > Carbon and Hydrocarbon Compounds
  • Glaciers/Ice Sheets > Firn
  • Water Quality/Water Chemistry > Hydrocarbons
Data Format(s):
  • Microsoft Excel
Version: V1
Data Contributor(s): Murat Aydin, Eric Saltzman

Data Citation

As a condition of using these data, you must cite the use of this data set using the following citation. For more information, see our Use and Copyright Web page.

Aydin, M. and E. Saltzman. 2011. Alkanes in Firn Air Samples, Antarctica and Greenland, Version 1. [Indicate subset used]. Boulder, Colorado USA. NSIDC: National Snow and Ice Data Center. doi: [Date Accessed].

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Detailed Data Description


This data set is provided in Microsoft Excel (.xls) format.

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File and Directory Structure

Data are available on the FTP site in the directory. The data set consists of one file,UCI_FirnAirData_LightAlkanes.xls

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File Size

The data set is 19 KB.

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Spatial and Temporal Coverage

Measurements were taken from firn air from three locations:

Table 1. Site Locations and Dates of Sample Collection
Site Name Location Dates of Firn Sample Collection

South Pole, Antarctica

Latitude: 90°S
Longitude: 0°E

December 2008 to January 2009

WAIS Divide Ice Core Site, Antarctica

Latitude: 79.47°S
Longitude: 112.09°E

December 2005 to January 2006

Summit Ice Core Site, Greenland

Latitude: 72.5833°N 
Longitude: 38.3833°W

Summer 2006 (Northern Hemisphere)

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Parameter or Variable

This data set contains ethane, propane, and n-butane measurements from firn air, reported as dry air molar mixing ratios in part per trillion (ppt).

Parameter Description

Table 2.Parameter Description
Parameter Description

depth (m)

Sample depth, in meters below surface

ethane (ppt)
propane (ppt) 
n-butane (ppt)

Gas concentration measurement, reported as dry air molar mixing ratios in part per trillion (ppt)

2 s.e. (ppt)

Standard error range of the data, reported as dry air molar mixing ratios in part per trillion (ppt)

Sample Data Record

This sample data record shows the first three records for propane data.

Firn air propane data
South Pole, Antarctica WAIS-D, Antarctica Summit, Greenland
depth (m) propane (ppt) 2 s.e. (ppt) depth (m) propane (ppt) 2 s.e. (ppt) depth (m) propane (ppt) 2 s.e. (ppt)
0 6.3 1.7 0 11.3 2.0 0 102.7 14.2
10 22.0 0.6 14.99 25.1 6.2 10.01 459.4 30.8
17 29.9 2.0 20.53 28.8 6.2 15.05 469.7 25
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Software and Tools

Software and Tools

Data are accessible using Microsoft Excel.

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Data Acquisition and Processing

Theory of Measurements

Hydrocarbons such as methane, ethane, and n-butane, are released from fossil fuel burning as well as from natural sources. By measuring the concentration of hydrocarbons from firn air samples, researchers can determine historical atmospheric concentrations of these chemicals, dating back multiple decades. These data may therefore be useful for quantifying historical fossil fuel emissions.

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Data Acquisition Methods

Researchers filled flasks from firn air samples using established methods, cited in Battle, et. al. 1996.

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Sensor or Instrument Description

Samples were measured in a laboratory at the University of California, Irvine, on a gas chromatography-mass spectrometer (GC-MS) designed for trace gas analysis.

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References and Related Publications

Contacts and Acknowledgments

Murat Aydin
University of California, Irvine
Department of Earth System Science
Irvine, California 92697

Dr. Eric Saltzman
University of California, Irvine 
3325 Croul Hall 
Irvine, California 92697


This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of Polar Programs (OPP) grant number 0739598.

Document Information

Document Creation Date

14 December 2011

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