Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 3251-3300, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
Radon activity in the lower troposphere and its impact on ionization rate: a global estimate using different radon emissions
K. Zhang1, J. Feichter1, J. Kazil2,9, H. Wan1, W. Zhuo3, A. D. Griffiths4, H. Sartorius5, W. Zahorowski4, M. Ramonet6, M. Schmidt6, C. Yver6, R. E. M. Neubert7, and E.-G. Brunke8
1Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
2Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA
3Institute of Radiation Medicine, Fudan University, Shanghai, China
4Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, NSW, Australia
5Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), Salzgitter, Germany
6Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, IPSL, CEA, UVSQ, CNRS, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
7Centre for Isotope Research, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
8South African Weather Service, Stellenbosch, South Africa
9NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL), Boulder, Colorado, USA

Abstract. The radioactive decay of radon and its progeny can lead to ionization of air molecules and consequently influence aerosol size distribution. In order to provide a global estimate of the radon-related ionization rate, we use the global atmospheric model ECHAM5 to simulate transport and decay processes of the radioactive tracers. A global radon emission map is put together using regional fluxes reported recently in the literature. The near-surface radon concentrations simulated with this new map compare well with measurements.

Radon-related ionization rate is calculated and compared to that caused by cosmic rays. The contribution of radon and its progeny clearly exceeds that of the cosmic rays in the mid- and low-latitude land areas in the surface layer. In winter, strong radon-related ionization coincides with low temperature in China, USA, and Russia, providing favorable condition for the formation of aerosol particles. This suggests that it is probably useful to include the radon-induced ionization in global models when investigating the interaction between aerosol and climate.

Citation: Zhang, K., Feichter, J., Kazil, J., Wan, H., Zhuo, W., Griffiths, A. D., Sartorius, H., Zahorowski, W., Ramonet, M., Schmidt, M., Yver, C., Neubert, R. E. M., and Brunke, E.-G.: Radon activity in the lower troposphere and its impact on ionization rate: a global estimate using different radon emissions, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 3251-3300, doi:10.5194/acpd-11-3251-2011, 2011.
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