Articles | Volume 10, issue 4
Research article
03 Apr 2017
Research article |  | 03 Apr 2017

A European-wide 222radon and 222radon progeny comparison study

Dominik Schmithüsen, Scott Chambers, Bernd Fischer, Stefan Gilge, Juha Hatakka, Victor Kazan, Rolf Neubert, Jussi Paatero, Michel Ramonet, Clemens Schlosser, Sabine Schmid, Alex Vermeulen, and Ingeborg Levin

Abstract. Although atmospheric 222radon (222Rn) activity concentration measurements are currently performed worldwide, they are being made by many different laboratories and with fundamentally different measurement principles, so compatibility issues can limit their utility for regional-to-global applications. Consequently, we conducted a European-wide 222Rn ∕ 222Rn progeny comparison study in order to evaluate the different measurement systems in use, determine potential systematic biases between them, and estimate correction factors that could be applied to harmonize data for their use as a tracer in atmospheric applications. Two compact portable Heidelberg radon monitors (HRM) were moved around to run for at least 1 month at each of the nine European measurement stations included in this comparison. Linear regressions between parallel data sets were calculated, yielding correction factors relative to the HRM ranging from 0.68 to 1.45. A calibration bias between ANSTO (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation) two-filter radon monitors and the HRM of ANSTO ∕ HRM  =  1.11 ± 0.05 was found. Moreover, for the continental stations using one-filter systems that derive atmospheric 222Rn activity concentrations from measured atmospheric progeny activity concentrations, preliminary 214Po ∕ 222Rn disequilibrium values were also estimated. Mean station-specific disequilibrium values between 0.8 at mountain sites (e.g. Schauinsland) and 0.9 at non-mountain sites for sampling heights around 20 to 30 m above ground level were determined. The respective corrections for calibration biases and disequilibrium derived in this study need to be applied to obtain a compatible European atmospheric 222Rn data set for use in quantitative applications, such as regional model intercomparison and validation or trace gas flux estimates with the radon tracer method.

Short summary
A European-wide 222radon/222radon progeny comparison study has been conducted at nine measurement stations in order to determine differences between existing 222radon instrumentation and atmospheric data sets, respectively. Mean differences up to 45 % were found between monitors. These differences need to be taken into account if the data shall serve for quantitative regional atmospheric transport model validation.