IAEA to study climate-change effects globally using nuclear science

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unveiled an international research project late last week that will use nuclear technology in mountainous and polar regions to study climate-change effects on the environment.

Within this research, environmental scientists will be evaluating ecosystem characteristics, including the quality of land and water, and the impacts that warmer weather is having on these resources. Since July, scientists have been using nuclear-science, including isotopic techniques, to determine the movement of sediment and atmospheric effects from melting permafrost.  Despite the localized nature of this research, the results are expected to attract global attention. 

This portion of the four-year project will take place until July 2016. Currently, sites are located in 13 areas of the planet, and six international organizations are working with the IAEA to gauge the validity of climate concerns.

“(The impact of climate change in mountainous and polar areas is) not always well understood,” Gerd Dercon, head of the Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Laboratory of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture,  said. “That's why this project is so important. But also, this project is very significant in the context of looking at what happens when the cryosphere — that's snow cover, ice sheets, glaciers and permafrost — changes, and what happens in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, soil-water availability, sediment and sedimentary distribution, slope stability and coastal erosion."


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