Simulating transport of non-Chernobyl 137Cs and 90Sr in the North Atlantic–Arctic region
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The spatial and temporal distributions of the anthropogenic radionuclides 137Cs and 90Sr, originating from nuclear bomb testing and the Sellafield reprocessing plants in the Irish Sea, are simulated using a global version of the Miami Isopycnic Coordinate Ocean Model (MICOM). The physical model is forced with daily atmospheric re-analysed fields for the period 1950 to present. Comparison of temporal evolution of observed and simulated concentrations of 137Cs have been conducted for the regions east of Scotland, west of central Norway and at the entrance of the Barents Sea. It follows that the radionuclides from the Sellafield discharge reach the Barents Sea region after 4–5 years, in accordance with observations. The simulation provides a detailed distribution and evolution of the radionuclides over the integration time. For the Atlantic waters off the coast of Norway and in the southern Barents Sea, the atmospheric fallout dominates over the Sellafield release up to the mid 1960s and from the early 1990s, whereas Sellafield is the main source for the two radionuclides in the 1970s and 1980s. It is furthermore argued that model systems like the one presented here can be used for future prediction of radioactive contaminations in the Nordic Seas and the Arctic Ocean, for instance under various global warming scenarios.