Journal cover Journal topic
The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
26 Mar 2015
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC). The revised manuscript was not accepted.
Overview on radon measurements in Arctic glacier waters
A. Kies1, O. Hengesch1, Z. Tosheva1, A. P. Nawrot2, and J. Jania3 1Laboratoire Physique des Radiations (LPR), University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
2Institute of Geophysics Polish Academy of Sciences, Leading National Research Centre (KNOW), Warsaw, Poland
3Faculty of Earth Sciences, University of Silesia – Centre for Polar Studies, Poland
Abstract. We present a possibility to investigate the presence of the subglacial component in waters supplied by glacierized basins in introducing radioactive isotope measurements, in combination with more classical parameters like temperature and electrical conductivity. Among the natural radioactive elements the most promising is the noble gas radon isotope 222Rnv. With a half-life of 3.8 days, it constitutes a short time tracer and also allows continuous measurements. In waters drained out from a target landbased Svalbard glacier, radon levels show surprisingly high values up to 33 Bq L−1 in the accumulation season. In the ablation period varying radon concentrations can be linked to mixing of waters from different origins, roughly supraglacial (meltwater and rain water), englacial and subglacial. Only water recently in close contact with bedrock or sediments can be charged with radon. Results from several years of radon measurements on Werenskiold glacier, in ablation and accumulation seasons, are presented and discussed. The results of continuous measurements give proxy information on drainage footpaths and the style and system of the draining of glaciers. They enable to distinguish the presence of a subglacial component in water flowing from the glacier system in different seasons of the year and thus are a step towards the indication of the prevailing type of glacier drainage during summer and winter seasons.

Citation: Kies, A., Hengesch, O., Tosheva, Z., Nawrot, A. P., and Jania, J.: Overview on radon measurements in Arctic glacier waters, The Cryosphere Discuss.,, 2015.
A. Kies et al.
A. Kies et al.


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Short summary
We present a study of the subglacial component in waters using the natural radioisotope radon. The paper is the result of several years of investigations on a Svalbard glacier and constitutes a first overview on this new technique. The paper is innovative as we are the first to use radon as a tracer for the system of glacier drainage, hydrology and glacier dynamics.
We present a study of the subglacial component in waters using the natural radioisotope radon....