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From greenhouse gas fluxes to early warning networks: The importance of radioactive tracers
by Dr. Annette Röttger, Dr. Stefan Röttger, Dr. Claudia Grossi, Dr. Ute Karstens, Dr. Giorgia Cinelli, Dr. Chris Rennick


One of the world's greatest challenges lies in combating climate change. Alongside this, the issue of radiological safety seemed less prominent for a long time, but the radioactive tracer "radon" combines both challenges. This brought together different scientific branches with a common need: new metrology for the determination of greenhouse gas fluxes and for the improvement of ambient dose monitoring networks in the environment. Political decisions need valid data. Implementing expensive measures, whether in climate protection or radiation protection, always means the need to make the success of these measures measurable. Can metrology make its contribution here? The consortium of the traceRadon* project has taken up this challenge by looking for suitable metrics that could enable an assessment. This brought the radioactive noble gas radon into focus, knowing full well that the metrology for its trace measurement in the atmosphere has been lacking up to now. Making measurable what was not measurable before, providing trustworthy data where there was no comparability before and thus paving the way for new approaches like the radon tracer method (RTM) is a promising way for the joint work of WMO and BIPM to solve the most pressing issues of the future. The traceRadon project shows what is possible when we bring our competencies together. New SI traceability chains for measurement quantities used in climate observation and radiation protection were developed, new customer calibration services for new types of measurement and new types of devices are made available. A first standard protocol for the application of the radon tracer method (RTM) to enable retrieval of greenhouse gas fluxes at atmospheric climate gas monitoring stations and to use radon flux data for the identification of Radon Priority Areas (RPA) is in finalization. Current radon flux models and inventories are validated, while new traceable measurements of radon activity concentration and radon flux are supported by dosimetric and spectrometric data from the radiological early warning networks in Europe for the first time. As a further outcome, easy to use dynamic radon concentration and radon flux maps for climate change research and radiation protection in line with Council Directive 2013/59/EURATOM, including their use to identify RPA and radon wash-out peaks are in the formation. *This project 19ENV01 traceRadon has received funding from the EMPIR programme co-financed by the Participating States and from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

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Topic : Theme 2: Accuracy requirements for atmospheric composition measurements across economic sectors, and temporal and spatial scales.
Reference : T2-A2

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