The distribution of 239Pu in Atlantic and Indian Ocean waters about four decades after their main injection from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests is discussed. Recent data obtained in the framework of the SHOTS (Southern Hemisphere Ocean Tracer Studies) projects are evaluated and compared with previous investigations. Seawater samples were collected during the round the globe BEAGLE2003 (Blue Ocean Global Expedition) along the 30°S transect in the Atlantic and the 20°S transect in the Indian Ocean. The results indicate transport of surface waters labelled with 239Pu from the western North Pacific via the Indonesian Seas to the South Indian Ocean and then to the South Atlantic Ocean. Along the whole BEAGLE2003 sampling route, the Atlantic Ocean has the lowest 239Pu content due to its particle scavenging on the long way from the western North Pacific. On the other hand, concentrations of the conservative 137Cs tracer are in all three oceanic basins comparable. The primary productivity reflected by the chlorophyll content in surface waters has similar longitudinal distribution as 239Pu. Radioactive and chlorophyll tracers revealed that the most important current system in each southern oceanic basin is represented by the Subtropical gyre. While the main streams of the gyres maintain high concentrations of tracers, inside the loops the tracer concentrations are the lowest.
- Radio ecology and tracers