Radioactive chlorine gas STILL leaks out of the ice caps of Antarctica after nuclear bomb tests in the Pacific 60 years ago
- For decades, researchers followed chlorine level 36 in two different areas
- In one area it declined dramatically, but in the other it was still high in 2008
- This suggests that the gas is still leaking from ice cream stores in the Vostok area
Radioactive chlorine still leaks from the ice caps of Antarctica after nuclear bomb tests in the fifties and sixties.
A study has discovered a specific type of radioactive chlorine – chlorine 36 – in the Vostok region of the icy continent.
The scientists who found it say it was hit after it hit the air when the US Army tested nuclear weapons in the Pacific about 60 years ago.
It has since been imprisoned and is still being released into the environment, although it does not harm nature in the area, the researchers found.
The Marshall Islands, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, were hit by 67 nuclear bombs during the American tests between 1946 and 1958 (photo)
Scientists said the radioactive chlorine-36 in Antarctica ended after nuclear bombing in the Pacific in the 1950s and 1960s, and has since stayed on the virtually untouched landscape (stock image of Antarctica)
Researchers from the European Center for Geosciences and Education in France have tested for chlorine-36 in two different areas of Antarctica for two decades.
In one area – the Talos Dome – they noticed that the amount of radioactive chemical gradually decreased between 1910 and 1980.
By the end of this period it had only four times as much as would normally be expected.
But in a nearby part – called Vostok – the chlorine 36 levels remained astonishingly high. In 2008 there was still ten times as much as would be expected naturally.
In one area – the Talos Dome – they saw the amount of radioactive chemical gradually decrease between 1910 and 1980, but in a nearby area – called Vostok – the chlorine 36 levels remained astonishingly high
Bikini Atoll (photo), an island in the Pacific, was hit with the largest hydrogen bomb ever in a test, causing the local population to suffer from health problems
ATMOSPHERIC NUCLEAR WEAPONS OF THE UNITED STATES
The United States conducted more than 1,000 nuclear tests between 1945-1992.
Of the group, more than 200 tests were atmospheric – meaning they were conducted in the atmosphere, with bombs falling from planes, exploded on ships or islands, or buried at a shallow depth around a surface-breaking crater to create.
The first atmospheric test took place in New Mexico on July 16, 1945, at what was then the Alamogordo Bombing Range, according to a report from the US Department of Energy.
And between June 1946 and November 1962 both atmospheric and underground tests were conducted on the Marshall Islands, Christmas Island, Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean and over the South Atlantic.
On March 1, 1954, scientists conducted a hydrogen bomb test on Bikini Atoll.
Code name Castle Bravo, the size of the event expectations, leading to radioactive fall-out.
This traveled to the nearby inhabited atolls Rongelap and Utrik and led to the evacuation of 253 people from the two islands for medical care.
While some returned to Utrik only a few months later, the inhabitants of Rongelap did not return until 1957, and later chose to leave.
The catastrophic test has led many to demand the ban on atmospheric testing.
After 1962, all nuclear tests in the US were conducted underground, many of which took place at the Nevada test site.
The researchers, led by Mélanie Baroni, said that this indicated that ice in that area continued to release radioactive chlorine-36 into the surrounding environment.
Although there are natural sources of gas, they do not produce much. The enormous amounts produced by the nuclear tests of the 1950s were created when bomb neutrons reacted with chlorine that was already found in seawater.
Mrs. Baroni said: & # 39; There is no more nuclear chlorine-36 in the global atmosphere. That's … why we have to observe natural chlorine 36 values everywhere. & # 39;
The chlorine-36 found in Antarctica came because the gas became airborne after the bomb tests and was transported around the world by the wind.
Antarctica is so untouched that the radioactive gas has remained there ever since.
Although the levels of the gas are unusually high, they are not large enough to pose a threat, said Mrs. Baroni's team.
But they were interesting to study because other types of radioactivity had already returned to the pre-bomb level, while it had remained high.
The research is published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.
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