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Airborne radionuclides and heavy metals in high Arctic terrestrial environment as the indicators of sources and transfers of contamination

Airborne radionuclides and heavy metals in high Arctic terrestrial environment as the indicators of sources and transfers of contamination
Airborne radionuclides and heavy metals in high Arctic terrestrial environment as the indicators of sources and transfers of contamination
A survey of airborne radioactive isotopes (137Cs, 238Pu, 239+240Pu, 241Am, and 210Pb) and trace metals (Pb, Cu, Zn, Cd, Fe, Al) in tundra soils and cryoconite hole material sampled from several locations in the Kaffiøyra region of Spitsbergen revealed significant variability in spatial concentration. Lithogenic radionuclides (230Th, 232Th, 234U, 238U) show less variability than the airborne radionuclides because their activity concentrations are controlled by mixing of local material derived from different types of bedrock.

Activity ratios of the artificial radionuclides in most cryoconite samples differ from global fallout signatures. The contribution of radionuclides from additional and more specific sources might be enhanced by non-continuous exposure of cryoconite to atmospheric deposition. We assumed that the main source of Pu, which was detected only in cryoconite samples, is derived from nuclear tests and non-exploded weapons-grade material. Approximately one-third of the total observed Pu activity concentration is 238Pu, most likely originating from the SNAP9A satellite re-entry, which was powered by a 238Pu thermoelectric generator. In samples from Waldemarbreen the influence of glacial local morphology on the capability of cryoconite for trapping and accumulating airborne radionuclides is apparent. Local glacial morphology plays an important role in determining the accumulation of airborne pollutants. Trace metal concentrations in soils were typical or slightly higher than concentrations characteristic for the natural background; the 206Pb∕207Pb signature was also close to the natural ratio of the parent rocks. Conversely, trace metal concentrations in cryoconite samples (Pb and Cd) were higher than in soil samples and exceeded natural values. Cryoconite is an effective monitor of the spread of artificial radionuclides and heavy metals in their surrounding environment.
1994-0416
2075-2086
Łokas, Edyta
029668d2-9da2-4aab-afe1-93df8c2e3943
Zaborska, Agata
38cd1996-75ae-4f4d-9f01-63346cafcc3b
Sobota, Ireneusz
24c5dabe-998f-4824-bb20-05541605a708
Gaca, Paweł
3d23473d-db81-436a-a12d-ad707db4abc8
Milton, J. Andrew
9e183221-d0d4-4ddb-aeba-0fdde9d31230
Kocurek, Paweł
4244117f-78b9-4428-9a45-cf741c4f8e7b
Cwanek, Anna
07b1c53d-1dd6-4aee-8072-70af29583768
Łokas, Edyta
029668d2-9da2-4aab-afe1-93df8c2e3943
Zaborska, Agata
38cd1996-75ae-4f4d-9f01-63346cafcc3b
Sobota, Ireneusz
24c5dabe-998f-4824-bb20-05541605a708
Gaca, Paweł
3d23473d-db81-436a-a12d-ad707db4abc8
Milton, J. Andrew
9e183221-d0d4-4ddb-aeba-0fdde9d31230
Kocurek, Paweł
4244117f-78b9-4428-9a45-cf741c4f8e7b
Cwanek, Anna
07b1c53d-1dd6-4aee-8072-70af29583768

Łokas, Edyta, Zaborska, Agata, Sobota, Ireneusz, Gaca, Paweł, Milton, J. Andrew, Kocurek, Paweł and Cwanek, Anna (2019) Airborne radionuclides and heavy metals in high Arctic terrestrial environment as the indicators of sources and transfers of contamination. The Cryosphere, 13 (7), 2075-2086. (doi:10.5194/tc-13-2075-2019).

Record type: Article

Abstract

A survey of airborne radioactive isotopes (137Cs, 238Pu, 239+240Pu, 241Am, and 210Pb) and trace metals (Pb, Cu, Zn, Cd, Fe, Al) in tundra soils and cryoconite hole material sampled from several locations in the Kaffiøyra region of Spitsbergen revealed significant variability in spatial concentration. Lithogenic radionuclides (230Th, 232Th, 234U, 238U) show less variability than the airborne radionuclides because their activity concentrations are controlled by mixing of local material derived from different types of bedrock.

Activity ratios of the artificial radionuclides in most cryoconite samples differ from global fallout signatures. The contribution of radionuclides from additional and more specific sources might be enhanced by non-continuous exposure of cryoconite to atmospheric deposition. We assumed that the main source of Pu, which was detected only in cryoconite samples, is derived from nuclear tests and non-exploded weapons-grade material. Approximately one-third of the total observed Pu activity concentration is 238Pu, most likely originating from the SNAP9A satellite re-entry, which was powered by a 238Pu thermoelectric generator. In samples from Waldemarbreen the influence of glacial local morphology on the capability of cryoconite for trapping and accumulating airborne radionuclides is apparent. Local glacial morphology plays an important role in determining the accumulation of airborne pollutants. Trace metal concentrations in soils were typical or slightly higher than concentrations characteristic for the natural background; the 206Pb∕207Pb signature was also close to the natural ratio of the parent rocks. Conversely, trace metal concentrations in cryoconite samples (Pb and Cd) were higher than in soil samples and exceeded natural values. Cryoconite is an effective monitor of the spread of artificial radionuclides and heavy metals in their surrounding environment.

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Accepted/In Press date: 29 June 2019
Published date: 29 July 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 433626
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/433626
ISSN: 1994-0416
PURE UUID: 19238733-9e6e-487e-a58b-1ccf4a795fb4

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Date deposited: 28 Aug 2019 16:30
Last modified: 11 Nov 2019 17:31

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