Ice Core Dating using Probabilistic Programming

Ice cores record crucial information about past climate. However, before ice core data can have scientific value, the chronology must be inferred by estimating the age as a function of depth. Under certain conditions, chemicals locked in the ice display quasi-periodic cycles that delineate annual layers. Manually counting these noisy seasonal patterns to infer the chronology can be an imperfect and time-consuming process, and does not capture uncertainty in a principled fashion. In addition, several ice cores may be collected from a region, introducing an aspect of spatial correlation between them. We present an exploration of the use of probabilistic models for automatic dating of ice cores, using probabilistic programming to showcase its use for prototyping, automatic inference and maintainability, and demonstrate common failure modes of these tools.

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