A deep ice core has been drilled on Akademii Nauk ice cap, Severnaya Zemlya, Eurasian Arctic. High-resolution chemical analysis has been carried out for the upper 53 m of this ice core to study its potential as an atmospheric aerosol archive, despite strong meltwater percolation. These records show that a seasonal atmospheric signal cannot be deduced. However, strong year-to-year variations have allowed the core to be dated, and a mean annual net mass balance of 0.46 m w.e. a-1 was deduced. The chemical signature of an extraordinarily high peak in electrical conductivity at 26 m depth pointed clearly to the eruption of Bezymianny, Kamchatka, in 1956. However, in general, peaks in the electrical conductivity are not necessarily related to deposition of volcanogenic sulphur aerosol. In contrast, maximum sulphate and nitrate concentrations in the ice could be related to maximum SO2 and NOx anthropogenic emissions in the 1970s, probably caused by the nickel- and copper-producing industries in Norilsk and on the Kola peninsula or by industrial combustion processes occurring in the Siberian Arctic. In addition, during recent decades sulphate and nitrate concentrations declined by 80% and 60%, respectively, reflecting a decrease in anthropogenic pollution of the Arctic basin.