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 cover map as a surrogate indicator of soil type, we have related catchment land cover type to satellite-derived land cover map as a surrogate indicator of soil type, we have related a 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.
- geographical information systems
- organic soils
- satellite land cover map