EGU2020-9336, updated on 12 Jun 2020
EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Statistical approaches and tools for IntCal20

Christopher Bronk Ramsey1, Timothy Heaton2, Maarten Blaauw3, Paul Blackwell2, Paula Reimer3, Ron Reimer3, and Marian Scott4
Christopher Bronk Ramsey et al.
  • 1University of Oxford, School of Archaeology, Oxford, UK (
  • 2University of Sheffield, School of Mathematics and Statistics, Sheffield, UK
  • 3Queen’s University Belfast, School of Natural and Built Environment, Belfast, UK
  • 4University of Glasgow, School of Mathematics and Statistics, Glasgow, UK

The construction of the new IntCal20 calibration curve was undertaken using a number of new statistical approaches (Heaton et al. 2020), when compared to previous versions.  This was partly due to the nature of some of the new datasets; partly to improve the robustness of the curve; and partly to address particular aspects of radiocarbon within the Earth System such as reservoir effects, incorporation of geological carbon in speleothems, and the uncertainties associated with different timescales.  Here the main approaches taken are summarised with a perspective on their strengths and potential weaknesses.

In particular, the high-resolution extensions to the Hulu speleothem radiocarbon record (Cheng et al. 2018) allow it to be used to anchor the chronology for other key records (Suigetsu, Cariaco, and the Pakistan and Iberian Margins), providing a coherence in the timescale not possible before.  Further, for the first time, we incorporate time varying marine reservoir ages, constrained by the Hamburg Large Scale Geostrophic Ocean General Circulation Model (LSG OGCM)(Butzin et al. 2020).  In addition, work on the relationship to the Greenland ice core timescales (Adolphi et al. 2018) enables us to make direct comparison between radiocarbon dated records and the ice core timescale and here we report on tools to assist with this.

Along with the update to the calibration curve itself, the associated tools for calibration, age-depth modelling and Bayesian modelling have also been updated to make best use of the new resolution and characteristics of the curve.  Here we summarise updates to Bacon, Calib and OxCal.

Heaton, TJ. et al (2020) The IntCal20 approach to radiocarbon calibration curve construction: A new methodology using Bayesian splines and errors-in-variables Radiocarbon: in review.

Cheng, H. et al. (2018) Atmospheric 14C/12C changes during the last glacial period from Hulu Cave. Science, 362(6420), pp.1293-1297. doi:10.1126/science.aau0747

Adolphi, F. et al. (2018) Connecting the Greenland ice-core and U/Th timescales via cosmogenic radionuclides: Testing the synchronicity of Dansgaard-Oeschger events. Climate of the Past, 14, pp.1755-1781. doi:10.5194/cp-2018-85

Butzin, M. et al. (2020) A short note on marine reservoir age simulations used in IntCal20. Radiocarbon: in press.

How to cite: Bronk Ramsey, C., Heaton, T., Blaauw, M., Blackwell, P., Reimer, P., Reimer, R., and Scott, M.: Statistical approaches and tools for IntCal20, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9336,, 2020

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