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Investigating the drivers of the unprecedented Chernobyl Power Plant Wildfire in April 2020 and its effects on 137Cs dispersal

Newman-Thacker, F; Turnbull, L

Investigating the drivers of the unprecedented Chernobyl Power Plant Wildfire in April 2020 and its effects on 137Cs dispersal Thumbnail


Authors

F Newman-Thacker



Abstract

In this study we explore the conditions that led to the unprecedented wildfire that occurred in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in April 2020 and the effect of this fire on 137Cs dispersal, as wildfires are important drivers of 137Cs re-suspension, with potentially harmful consequences for the receiving ecosystems. We characterised the historical wildfire record between 2000 and 2020 using the MCD64A1.006 MODIS Burned Area Monthly Global 500 m dataset, and assessed the climatic conditions associated with these wildfire events using ERA5-Land reanalysis data. We also examined fire danger indices at the time of these wildfires. We then explored the widespread effects of the April 2020 wildfire on 137Cs re-suspension and subsequent deposition using the NOAA HYSPLIT model, concluding that the impacts of such resuspension on areas further afield were minimal. Results show that climatic conditions leading to severe wildfires are increasing, especially during March and April. High soil-moisture, relative humidity and extreme temperature anomalies are associated with the largest wildfires on record and fire risk indices at the time of the April 2020 fire were higher than for other large fires on record. We have estimated that 3854 GBq of 137Cs re suspended during the CPPF, with atmospheric transport dominant over Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Kazakhstan. The observed increase in large wildfires will have implications for wildfire-driven soil erosion processes, which will further exacerbate the effects of atmospheric-driven 137Cs redistribution.

Citation

Newman-Thacker, F., & Turnbull, L. (2021). Investigating the drivers of the unprecedented Chernobyl Power Plant Wildfire in April 2020 and its effects on 137Cs dispersal. Natural Hazards, 109(2), 1877-1897. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-021-04902-7

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 24, 2021
Online Publication Date Jul 3, 2021
Publication Date 2021-11
Deposit Date Jun 24, 2021
Publicly Available Date Aug 20, 2021
Journal Natural Hazards
Print ISSN 0921-030X
Electronic ISSN 1573-0840
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 109
Issue 2
Pages 1877-1897
DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-021-04902-7
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1246700

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Publisher Licence URL
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Copyright Statement
Advance online version This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.







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