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Archaeology and other human sciences use radiocarbon dating to prove or disprove theories.Over the years, carbon 14 dating has also found applications in geology, hydrology, geophysics, atmospheric science, oceanography, paleoclimatology and even biomedicine.
An age could be estimated by measuring the amount of carbon-14 present in the sample and comparing this against an internationally used reference standard.
Reservoir corrections for freshwater carbonates (typically termed “hard water effect”) are usually unknown and are generally not easily accounted for in calendar calibrations.
For wood and charcoal the possibility of an “old wood effect” must be considered as well as the potential inclusion of some younger material in the total sample.
Calibrations of radiocarbon age determinations are applied to convert the Conventional Radiocarbon Age (BP age corrected for isotopic fractionation using a δ13C value) to calendar years.
The short-term difference between the two is caused by fluctuations in the heliomagnetic modulation of the galactic cosmic radiation and, recently, large-scale burning of fossil fuels and nuclear devices testing.