A new technique for processing airborne gamma ray spectrometry data has been developed. It is based on the noise adjusted singular value decomposition method introduced by Hovgaard in 1997. The new technique opens for mapping of very low contamination levels. It is tested with data from Latvia where the remaining contamination from the 1986 Chernobyl accident together with fallout from the atmospheric nuclear weapon tests includes Cs-137 at levels often well below 1 kBq/m(2) equivalent surface contamination. The limiting factors for obtaining reliable results are radon in the air, spectrum stability and accurate altitude measurements. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.