Articles | Volume 13, issue 3
Research article
05 Feb 2013
Research article |  | 05 Feb 2013

Modelling the global atmospheric transport and deposition of radionuclides from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident

T. Christoudias and J. Lelieveld

Abstract. We modeled the global atmospheric dispersion and deposition of radionuclides released from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident. The EMAC atmospheric chemistry – general circulation model was used, with circulation dynamics nudged towards ERA-Interim reanalysis data. We applied a resolution of approximately 0.5 degrees in latitude and longitude (T255). The model accounts for emissions and transport of the radioactive isotopes 131I and 137Cs, and removal processes through precipitation, particle sedimentation and dry deposition. In addition, we simulated the release of 133Xe, a noble gas that can be regarded as a passive transport tracer of contaminated air. The source terms are based on Chino et al. (2011) and Stohl et al. (2012); especially the emission estimates of 131I are associated with a high degree of uncertainty. The calculated concentrations have been compared to station observations by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO). We calculated that about 80% of the radioactivity from Fukushima which was released to the atmosphere deposited into the Pacific Ocean. In Japan a large inhabited land area was contaminated by more than 40 kBq m-2. We also estimated the inhalation and 50-year dose by 137Cs, 134Cs and 131I to which the people in Japan are exposed.

Final-revised paper