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Glover, D.M., 1985

Processes controlling Radon-222 and Radium-226 on the southeastern Bering Sea Shelf

Bibliographic Reference

Glover, D.M., 1985, Processes controlling Radon-222 and Radium-226 on the southeastern Bering Sea Shelf: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Ph.D. dissertation, 155 p., illust.


An investigation was made into the use of 222Rn and 226Ra as tracers of air-sea gas exchange, water column mixing and sediment-water exchange on the southeastern Bering Sea shelf. Furthermore, a two-dimensional model was developed to unify these three processes into a coherent picture of 222Rn flux out of the sediments, through the water column and into the atmosphere. The best time period to average wind speeds when regressing them against gas transfer coefficients was found to be 3.3 days by a linear regression optimization, approximately the synoptic time scale of storms in the southeastern Bering Sea. A statistically significant relationship between averaged wind speed and transfer coefficients was found at the 80% confidence level. Gas transfer coefficients were found to be obscured in shallow waters by radon flux from the sediments. Two-dimensional mixing in these continental shelf waters rendered the traditional one-dimensional vertical mixing model of excess 222Rn unable to obtain reliable vertical eddy diffusivities. Exchange across the sediment-water interface was calculated from the deficiency of 222Rn measured in sediment cores, the standing crop of excess 222Rn in the overlying water column and the 222)Rn production rate of sediment surface grab samples. The flux of radon out of the sediments was found to increase in the onshore direction. Biological irrigation appears to be the primary exchange mechanism between the sediment and water columns on this shelf. Distributions in the water column show finestructure reported previously as well as biological removal of 226)Ra. A (chi)'2 hypersurface search found the optimal horizontal and vertical eddy diffusivities that explained the two-dimensional distribution of 222Rn provided from a kriging estimation exercise on the data measured in this study. This model was essentially a hybrid of a least squares surface fit and a numerical integration of the governing differential equation of 222Rn. When considered as a two-dimensional system in the cross-shelf direction, the rates of gas exchange, water column mixing and sediment-water exchange agree with each other to an acceptable degree.

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