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Meta-analysis of radiocesium contamination data in Japanese cedar and cypress forests over the period 2011–2017

Abstract : Since Fukushima accident, dozens of field studies have been conducted in order to quantify and understand the behaviour of atmospheric radiocesium (137Cs) fallouts in contaminated forests of Fukushima and neighbouring prefectures. In this paper, we carry out a detailed review of data acquired over 2011–2017 in Japanese cedar and cypress plantations, focusing on aerial tree organs, soil layers and tree-to-soil depuration fluxes. To enable comparison and reinforce the consistency between sites, radiological measurements were normalized by the deposit and interpolated onto the same spatio-temporal frame. Despite some (poorly explained) residual variability, we derived a “mean” pattern by log-averaging data among sites. These “mean” results were analysed with the help of a simple mass-balance approach and discussed in the light of post-Fukushima literature. We demonstrated that the activity levels and dynamics in all compartments were consistent and generally well reproduced by the mass balance approach, for values of the interception fraction between 0.7 and 0.85. The analysis indicated that about 5% of the initial deposit remained in the aerial vegetation after 6 years, more than two thirds of intercepted 137Cs being transferred to the soil due to throughfall. The simulations indicated that foliar uptake might have contributed between 40% and 100% to the activity transferred to stem wood. The activity concentration in canopy organs rapidly decreased in the first few months then more slowly, according to an effective half-life of about 1.6 years. The activity level in the organic layer peaked in summer 2011 then decreased according to an effective half-life of 2.2 years. After a rapid increase in 2011, the contamination of mineral horizons continued to increase more slowly, 85% of 137Cs incoming through the organic layer being retained in the 0–5 cm layer according to a mean residence time longer than in the upper layer (7 against 1.5 years).
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Marc Andre Gonze, Philippe Calmon, Pierre Hurtevent, Frederic Coppin. Meta-analysis of radiocesium contamination data in Japanese cedar and cypress forests over the period 2011–2017. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, Elsevier, 2021, 750 (142311), pp.1-20. ⟨10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142311⟩. ⟨hal-02982031⟩

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