Use of a satellite-derived land cover map to estimate transport of radiocaesium to surface waters

Smith, J. T.; Howard, D. C.; Wright, S. M.; Naylor, C.; Brookes, A. M.; Hilton, J.; Howard, B. J.. 1998 Use of a satellite-derived land cover map to estimate transport of radiocaesium to surface waters. Science of the Total Environment, 209. 1-15.

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During the weeks to months after the deposition of radioactive fallout, the initial concentration of radioactivity in rivers and lakes declines as a result of flushing and removal to bottom sediments. In the long-term, however, radioactivity in the water body can remain at significant levels as a result of secondary contamination processes. In particular, it is known that soils contaminated by long-lived radionuclides such as 137Cs and 90Sr provide a significant source to surface waters over a period of years after fallout. Using The Land Cover Map of Great Britain, a satellite-derived land cover map as a surrogate indicator of soil type, we have related catchment land cover type to long-term 137Cs activity concentrations in 27 lakes in Cumbria, UK. The study has shown that satellite-derived maps could be used to indicate areas vulnerable to high long-term 137Cs transport to surface waters in the event of a nuclear accident. In these Cumbrian lakes, it appears that residual 137Cs levels are determined by transfers of 137Cs from contaminated catchments rather than within-lake processes. Only three of the cover types, open shrub moor, bog and dense shrub moor, as identified by the satellite, are needed to explain over 90% of the variation in long-term 137Cs activity concentrations in the lakes, and these have been shown to correlate spatially with occurrence of organic soils.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Other
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: _ Pre-2000 sections
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Keywords: radiocaesium, catchments, organic soils, Cumbria, UK, satellite land cover map, Geographical Information Systems, LCM, LCMGB
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Data and Information
Date made live: 05 Nov 2008 13:46 +0 (UTC)

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