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Radioactivity of the Arctic ocean increasing due to global warming

Global Warming Is Increasing The Radioactivity Of The Arctic Ocean, IFL Science, Stephen Lundtz, 3 Jan 18 “………what is happening in the polar regions may ultimately be much more important [than the Fukushima radiation] . As Lauren Kipp of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution notes in Science Advances, climate change affects the Arctic region particularly strongly through the “Permafrost thawing on land and on continental shelves, increased river discharge, and reduced ice cover.” The last of these has been extensively tracked, but it is harder to measure the first two. Marine measurements of materials deposited in the ocean from permafrost melt and river discharge could change that.

Sediments on the continental shelves that make up half the Arctic Ocean’s territory contain thorium isotopes, which radioactively decay to radium. “Unlike thorium, radium is relatively soluble in seawater,” the paper notes, so measuring radium concentrations makes it possible to explore the interchange between the sediments and the waters above. In particular, it can provide a measure of the rate at which permafrost melting is releasing soluble materials into the ocean, a process enhanced as higher winds transport more water from coastal waters to the central Arctic.

Unfortunately, systematic records of radium concentrations in the Arctic prior to 2015 don’t exist. However, localized measurements taken in 1994, 2002, and 2007 allowed Kipp to conclude that radium-228 has risen sharply over the 2007-2015 period, and most of this increase must come from sediments at the continental margin.

The permafrost that was previously preventing the incorporation of sedimentary radium into the ocean contains something far more dangerous than tiny quantities of the radioactive element – methane, which would greatly amplify warming. more


January 12, 2018 - Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change

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