From 1999 to 2001 a 724 m deep ice core was drilled on Akademii Nauk ice cap, Severnaya Zemlya, to gain high-resolution proxy data from the central Russian Arctic. Despite strong summertime meltwater percolation, this ice core provides valuable information on the regional climate and environmental history. We present data of stable water isotopes, melt-layer content and major ions from the uppermost 57 m of this core, covering the period 1883–1998. Dating was achieved by counting seasonal isotopic cycles and using reference horizons. Multi-annual δ18O values reflect Eurasian sub-Arctic and Arctic surface air-temperature variations. We found strong correlations to instrumental temperature data from some stations (e.g. r = 0.62 for Vardø, northern Norway). The δ18O values show pronounced 20th-century temperature changes, with a strong rise about 1920 and the absolute temperature maximum in the 1930s. A recent decrease in the deuterium-excess time series indicates an increasing role of the Kara Sea as a regional moisture source. From the multi-annual ion variations we deduced decreasing sea-salt aerosol trends in the 20th century, as reflected by sodium and chloride, whereas sulphate and nitrate are strongly affected by anthropogenic pollution.