An automated approach for annual layer counting in ice cores

Mai Winstrup, A. M. Svensson, S. O. Rasmussen, Ole Winther, E. J. Steig, A. E. Axelrod

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    A novel method for automated annual layer counting in seasonally-resolved paleoclimate records has been developed. It relies on algorithms from the statistical framework of Hidden Markov Models (HMMs), which originally was developed for use in machine speech-recognition. The strength of the layer detection algorithm lies in the way it is able to imitate the manual procedures for annual layer counting, while being based on statistical criteria for annual layer identification. The most likely positions of multiple layer boundaries in a section of ice core data are determined simultaneously, and a probabilistic uncertainty estimate of the resulting layer count is provided, ensuring an objective treatment of ambiguous layers in the data. Furthermore, multiple data series can be incorporated and used simultaneously. In this study, the automated layer counting algorithm has been applied to an ice core record from Greenland. The algorithm shows high skill in reproducing the results from manual layer counts.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalClimate of the Past Discussions
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)2519-2555
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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    This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

    This is a Discussion Paper. Please see for the Final Revised Paper.


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