Constraining annual and seasonal radon-222 flux density from the Southern Ocean using radon-222 concentrations in the boundary layer at Cape Grim

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Zahorowski, W. ; Griffiths, A. D. ; Chambers, S. D. ; Williams, A. G. ; Law, R. M. ; Crawford, J. ; Werczynski, S. (2013)
  • Publisher: Tellus B
  • Journal: Tellus B (issn: 1600-0889, eissn: 0280-6509)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3402/tellusb.v65i0.19622
  • Subject: Meteorology. Climatology | QC851-999 | Southern Ocean | Cape Grim | radon flux density | ocean | atmospheric radon; radon flux density; ocean; Southern Ocean; Cape Grim | atmospheric radon | atmospheric physics

Radon concentrations measured between 2001 and 2008 in marine air at Cape Grim, a baseline site in north-western Tasmania, are used to constrain the radon flux density from the Southern Ocean. A method is described for selecting hourly radon concentrations that are least perturbed by land emissions and dilution by the free troposphere. The distribution of subsequent radon flux density estimates is representative of a large area of the Southern Ocean, an important fetch region for Southern Hemisphere climate and air pollution studies. The annual mean flux density (0.27 mBq m−2 s−1) compares well with the mean of the limited number of spot measurements previously conducted in the Southern Ocean (0.24 mBq m−2 s−1), and to some spot measurements made in other oceanic regions. However, a number of spot measurements in other oceanic regions, as well as most oceanic radon flux density values assumed for modelling studies and intercomparisons, are considerably lower than the mean reported here. The reported radon flux varies with seasons and, in summer, with latitude. It also shows a quadratic dependence on wind speed and significant wave height, as postulated and measured by others, which seems to support our assumption that the selected least perturbed radon concentrations were in equilibrium with the oceanic radon source. By comparing the least perturbed radon observations in 2002–2003 with corresponding ‘TransCom’ model intercomparison results, the best agreement is found when assuming a normally distributed radon flux density with σ=0.075 mBq m−2 s−1.Keywords: atmospheric radon, radon flux density, ocean, Southern Ocean, Cape Grim(Published: 14 February 2013)Citation: Tellus B 2013, 65, 19622, http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/tellusb.v65i0.19622
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