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Periodicity analysis of gamma radiation measurements in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, in the period 1988-2015

Α.Clouvas,  F.Leontaris, S. Xanthos, L. Hatjileontiadis

Radiation Protection Dosimetry, December 2015

Abstract: Gamma radiation measurements were performed during the last 27 y, starting from 1988, with a NaI(Tl)-based Xetex 501A radiation monitor located outside the Nuclear Technology Laboratory of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Northern Greece, and a time series was created. Measurements were also performed in the same place during 1995–98 and 2013–15 with portable high purity germanium (HPGe) detector. The total absorbed dose rate in air decreases exponentially with time. The total absorbed dose rate in air is the sum of the gamma dose rates due to (1) uranium series, (2) thorium series, (3) 40K and (4) 137Cs (due to the Chernobyl accident). In addition, a small contribution due to cosmic radiation is measured by the radiation monitor. From the time-dependence measurements with the HPGe detector, it was found that the time dependence of the absorbed gamma dose rate in air due to (1) uranium series, (2) thorium series and (3) 40K is quite constant. On the contrary, gamma dose rate due to 137Cs decreases exponentially with an effective half-life (t½) of ∼13.5 y, stronger than expected due to the natural decay of 137Cs. Time series analysis of the mean monthly total absorbed dose rate in air was performed. Fourier analysis reveals several periodicities, and applying Zhao–Atlas–Marks transform unravels the time distribution of those periodicities. There are three main discernible periodicities: 12 ± 0.2, 42.3 ± 2.9 and 53.2 ± 3.2 months. One of them is of a seasonal character (annual cycle) and can be linked to seasonal atmospheric variations and is strongly visible from 1988 to 2002 and 2008 to 2014. The other two (42.3 ± 2.9 and 53.2 ± 3.2 months) were found to be also related to meteorological parameters (air temperature), and they were very intense during the years 2002–4 when the annual periodicity was weak. Apart from the three main periodicities, there are also four others (14.7, 18.6, 21.3 and 27.3 months) with lower magnitudes; of which, three agree well with literature data periodicities in solar activity. Different possible mechanisms that can influence the gamma radiation measurements, due to solar activity, were discussed.