These changes were brought about by several factors including, but not limited to, fluctuations in the earth’s geomagnetic moment, fossil fuel burning, and nuclear testing.The most popular and often used method for calibration is by dendrochronology.The science of dendrochronology is based on the phenomenon that trees usually grow by the addition of rings, hence the name tree-ring dating.
In later years, the use of accelerator mass spectrometers and the introduction of high-precision carbon dating have also generated calibration curves.
A high-precision radiocarbon calibration curve published by a laboratory in Belfast, Northern Ireland, used dendrochronology data based on the Irish oak.
BP stands for “Before Present” or “Before Physics” as some would refer to it.
It should be noted that a BP notation is also used in other dating techniques but is defined differently, as in the case of thermoluminescence dating wherein BP is defined as AD 1980.
Results of carbon-14 dating are reported in radiocarbon years, and calibration is needed to convert radiocarbon years into calendar years.
Uncalibrated radiocarbon measurements are usually reported in years BP where 0 (zero) BP is defined as AD 1950.
For the period after 1950, a great deal of data on atmospheric radiocarbon concentration is available.
This post-modern data is very useful in some cases in illustrating a calendar age of very young materials (Hua, et. Atmospheric Radiocarbon for the period 1950-2010, Radiocarbon, 55(4), 2013).
It is also called “radiocarbon” because it is unstable and radioactive relative to carbon-12 and carbon-13.
Carbon consists of 99% carbon-12, 1% carbon-13, and about one part per million carbon-14.
Radiocarbon dating laboratories have been known to use data from other species of trees.