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The curve showed two types of variation from the straight line: a long term fluctuation with a period of about 9,000 years, and a shorter term variation, often referred to as "wiggles", with a period of decades.

Suess said he drew the line showing the wiggles by "cosmic schwung" – freehand, in other words.

To produce a curve that can be used to relate calendar years to radiocarbon years, a sequence of securely dated samples is needed which can be tested to determine their radiocarbon age.

The alternative is to take the original normal distribution of radiocarbon age ranges and use it to generate a histogram showing the relative probabilities for calendar ages.

This has to be done by numerical methods rather than by a formula because the calibration curve is not describable as a formula.

The improvements to these curves are based on new data gathered from tree rings, varves, coral, and other studies.

Significant additions to the datasets used for INTCAL13 include non-varved marine foraminifera data, and U-Th dated speleothems.

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