This award supports a project to construct an isotopic record of atmospheric methane and nitrous oxide over the last century from South Pole firn air. Over the last 150 years, atmospheric methane and nitrous oxide concentrations have risen in response to increased emissions from various anthropogenic activities. As this trend is liable to continue in the foreseeable future, it is important to understand the biogeochemical processes that contribute to the emissions of these two greenhouse gases. In this context, records of the variations in the atmospheric loading of trace gases found in ice cores and interstitial spaces in the snow near the surface of the ice sheet (firn air) provide fundamental boundary conditions for reconstructing historical emission records. One way to improve our understanding of the cycling of bioactive trace gases and their emission records is to use stable isotope tracers, which have been recorded in the ice cores and firn air. This project will develop records of carbon-13 and deuterium isotope ratios of methane, as well as the nitrogen-15, oxygen-18 and the isotopomer composition of nitrous oxide trapped in firn air samples collected in January 2001 at the South Pole. These measurements will allow isotopic records of these atmospheric gases to be reconstructed throughout the 20th century. Such records will help to establish the relative contribution of individual sources with a higher degree of confidence than is currently available.