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“It also confirms, as had previously been surmised, that as the last ice age ended changes in the carbon cycle in the ocean, associated with climate change, caused changes in the radiocarbon levels,” says Edwards.Timothy Jull, of the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arizona, says that the study helps refine the carbon-14 record and adds a lot of information about the Laschamp event by improving the record for that period.The results help explain historic variations in atmospheric radiocarbon and could add clarity to geological events such as the Laschamp geomagnetic excursion.This was a brief reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field around 43,000 years ago.Originally these stalagmites were collected to study historic Asian monsoon variability, Hai Cheng at Xi’an Jiaotong University in China, told .

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But that assumes that the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere was constant — any variation would speed up or slow down the clock.According to the team, the carbon-14 data has similarities to the geomagnetic record and indicates an abrupt increase in radiocarbon around the Laschamp excursion.This, they say, suggest that changes in the Earth’s magnetic field could be responsible for much of the historic fluctuations in atmosphere radiocarbon.Various geologic, atmospheric and solar processes can influence atmospheric carbon-14 levels.Since the 1960s, scientists have started accounting for the variations by calibrating the clock against the known ages of tree rings.

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