Radioecology in the Kongsfjorden area, Svalbard

The determination of radionuclide levels, their temporal and spatial variations and investigations concerning Arctic-specific processes provides insight into radionuclide behaviour in extreme environments and long-range transport of contaminants to Svalbard. In spring 2000, the Environmental Unit (located in the Polar Environmental Centre, Tromsø) of the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) started radioecological fieldwork in the area of Kongsfjorden on the west coast of Spitsbergen (Svalbard). In this context, long-range transported radionuclides of special interest for investigation in the context of this study are 99Tc, 238Pu, 239, 240Pu, 241Am and 137Cs. However, spectrometry of other gamma-ray emitting radioisotopes is included. Fieldwork was performed so far twice (May 2000 and 2001). In the fjord, surface seawater (137Cs, Pu/Am isotopes, 99Tc), sea ice (137Cs, total gamma-analysis), different types of seaweed (99Tc), and seafloor sediments (total gamma-analysis, Pu/Am isotopes) were sampled, whereas on land, plants and soil samples (total gamma-analysis) were taken. Samples are analysed at the radiochemistry laboratories of the NRPA. In the ice and seawater component of this project, the NRPA collaborates with the Norwegian Polar Institute, whereas regarding seaweed, a collaboration is established with the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany. For the year 2002, a first campaign took place in March, sampling seawater and sea ice under winter conditions in Kongsfjorden. In summer, we plan a 10 days fieldwork with both sampling in the terrestrial and in the marine environments. In addition to complementary sampling in respect to our earlier activities in Kongsfjorden, we want to investigate the transport processes between the marine and terrestrial ecosystems.