Atmospheric Radon Measurements in the Arctic; Fronts, Seasonal Observations, and Transport of Continental Air to Polar Regions

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  • 1 Environmental Sciences Division, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC 20375
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Abstract

Radon was determined in the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean in flights of a United States Naval Research Laboratory aircraft in April and May 1974. Simultaneously collected air samples were analyzed for carbon monoxide, methane, trichlorofluoromethane, and carbon tetrachloride. Flights at 305 m altitude found significant spatial and temporal variations in Arctic air masses and the formation of succinct fronts during warm air advection. Radon measurements, Defense Meteorological Satellite Project images, and conventional meteorological charts demonstrated the transport of North American air west of Greenland and of marine air and European air east of Greenland to the Arctic Ocean basin. Radon and the other trace gases served to identify stratospheric air masses, and showed that continental southern air did not penetrate over the Arctic Ocean basin at high altitudes (7.6–8.2 km). Trace gas measurements aboard ships and aircraft during different seasons in the Arctic suggest that seasonal variations are masked by synoptic variations.

Abstract

Radon was determined in the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean in flights of a United States Naval Research Laboratory aircraft in April and May 1974. Simultaneously collected air samples were analyzed for carbon monoxide, methane, trichlorofluoromethane, and carbon tetrachloride. Flights at 305 m altitude found significant spatial and temporal variations in Arctic air masses and the formation of succinct fronts during warm air advection. Radon measurements, Defense Meteorological Satellite Project images, and conventional meteorological charts demonstrated the transport of North American air west of Greenland and of marine air and European air east of Greenland to the Arctic Ocean basin. Radon and the other trace gases served to identify stratospheric air masses, and showed that continental southern air did not penetrate over the Arctic Ocean basin at high altitudes (7.6–8.2 km). Trace gas measurements aboard ships and aircraft during different seasons in the Arctic suggest that seasonal variations are masked by synoptic variations.

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