14 Feb 2023
 | 14 Feb 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Characterizing the automatic radon flux Transfer Standard system Autoflux: laboratory calibration and field experiments

Claudia Grossi, Daniel Rabago, Scott Chambers, Carlos Sáinz, Roger Curcoll, Peter P. S. Otáhal, Eliška Fialová, Luis Quindos, and Arturo Vargas

Abstract. High-quality, long-term measurements of terrestrial trace gas emissions are important for investigations of atmospheric, geophysical and biological processes to help mitigate climate change, protect the environment, and the health of citizens. High-frequency terrestrial fluxes of the radioactive noble gas 222Rn, in particular, are useful for validating radon flux maps, used to evaluate the performance of regional atmospheric models, to improve greenhouse gas emission inventories (by the Radon Tracer Method) and to determine Radon Priority Areas for radiation protection goals.

A new automatic radon flux system (the Autoflux) was developed as a Transfer Standard (TS) to assist with establishing a traceability chain for field-based radon flux measurements. The operational characteristics and features of the system were optimized based on a literature review of existing flux measurement systems. To characterize and calibrate the Autoflux a bespoke radon Exhalation Bed (EB) facility was also constructed with the intended purpose of providing a constant radon emanation under a specific set of controlled laboratory conditions. The calibrated Autoflux was then used to transfer the derived calibration to a second continuous radon flux system under laboratory conditions, both instruments were then tested in the field and compared with modeled fluxes.

This paper presents: i) a literature review of state-of-the-art radon flux systems and EB facilities; ii) the design, characterization and calibration of a reference radon EB facility; iii) the design, characterization and calibration of the Autoflux system; iv) the calibration of a second radon flux system (INTE_Flux) using the EB and Autoflux, with a total uncertainty of 9 % (k=1) for an average radon flux of ~1800 mBq m−2 s−1 under controlled laboratory conditions; and iv) an example application of the calibrated TS and INTE_Flux systems for in situ radon flux measurements which are then compared with simulated radon fluxes. Calibration of the TS under different environmental conditions and at lower reference fluxes will be the subject of a separate future investigation.

Claudia Grossi et al.

Status: open (extended)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on amt-2022-280', Anonymous Referee #2, 05 Mar 2023 reply

Claudia Grossi et al.

Claudia Grossi et al.


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Short summary
The automatic and low maintenance radon flux system Autoflux, completed with environmental soil/atmosphere sensors, has been theoretically and experimentally characterized and calibrated under laboratory conditions to be used as Transfer Standard for in situ measurements. It will offer for the first time long-term measurements to validate radon flux maps used by the climate and the radiation protection communities for assessing the radon gas emissions in the atmosphere.