The latter part of the Last Glacial Interval (LGI; 60,000 to 11,700 years ago) experienced a range of climatic and environment extremes. To elucidate the mechanisms of these changes requires records of past variability that are precisely dated and correlated on the same absolute timescale. However, despite decades of research, it is still not possible to align most marine and terrestrial records of past change with ice-core records, largely because of ongoing uncertainties over the conversion of pre-Holocene 14 C ages on to a calendar timescale and uncertainties with in ice-core chronologies. As a result, it is equivocal whether climate changes in both hemispheres during the LGI led, lagged or were synchronous with one another. A decadally-resolved radiocarbon calibration is urgently required to test these models of the Earth system. Here we report radiocarbon measurements obtained from subfossil New Zealand kauri (Agathis australis) spanning a collective 3500 years dated between 25,000 and 45,000 years ago. The results are compared to the recently published international calibration curve IntCal09 and to the marine Cariaco Basin datasets. We show that kauri have considerable potential for development of a Southern Hemisphere component of a unified global calibration curve suite, and that tree-ring sequences can be superposed on other radiocarbon records to constrain atmospheric–marine offsets and precisely test the synchronicity of abrupt climate change.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.