High-resolution tritium profile in an ice core from Camp Century, Greenland

Jixin Qiao, William Colgan, Gunnar Jakobs, Sven Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


We measure 3H in an ice core from Camp Century. The temporal distribution of 3H concentration in the ice core corresponds generally well with the historical record of explosive yields of atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. Maximum 3H values observed in 1962-1963 are comparable to those in ice core or precipitation in many other locations in the Northern Hemisphere. There is no indication that significant 3H contamination was locally released into the air during the operation of the Camp Century reactor. It is, however, somewhat surprising that several prominent 3H peaks are still observed after 1980. We suggest that these are associated with airborne 3H releases from the civil nuclear industry. A wavelet analysis during 1970-2017 indicates the primary frequency of variability in the 3H record is annual 3H peaks. These annual peaks can be combined with the 3H spikes from global fallout of known nuclear weapons tests to benchmark and evaluate theoretical ice core dating scales back to the 1950s. A positive correlation is observed between annual 3H average concentration and variability of Arctic Oscillation (AO). This highlights the value of 3H as a potential tracer for air masses and airborne pollutants in the Arctic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13638-13645
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2021


  • Camp Century
  • ice core
  • source
  • tracer application
  • tritium

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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