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New CRP: Monitoring and Predicting Radionuclide Uptake and Dynamics for Optimizing Remediation of Radioactive Contamination in Agriculture (CRP D15019)

New Coordinated Research Project
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Optimisation of remediation based on monitoring and prediction of the fate of radiocaesium and radiostrontium in agriculture is essential in the return of the affected territories to normal life conditions. Field crop sampling. (Photo: A. Lee Zhi Yi/IAEA)

In the aftermath of a large-scale nuclear accident, remediation of affected farmland to conditions suitable for normal living can be a major issue. Although the role of soil type and agricultural management in remediation is well understood for temperate regions, important knowledge and data gaps still exist about the fate of radionuclides in under-explored environments such as arid, tropical and monsoonal climates. Closing these knowledge and data gaps is a main objective of this CRP. Among radionuclides, radiocaesium and radiostrontium are of special interest due to their high energy beta and gamma radiation emission which may detrimentally affect human health when ingested, as well as to their significant half-lives (29.1 and 30.1 years respectively), which pose long-term radioecological risks when in the environment. Given the technical complexity of remediation and its high costs and potential social impact, optimization of remedial actions with advanced methodologies is important.

The Joint IAEA/FAO Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture is launching a new five-year Coordinated Research Project (CRP) to enhance readiness and capabilities of societies for optimizing the remediation of agricultural areas affected by large-scale nuclear accidents, using innovative monitoring and prediction techniques. New field, laboratory and machine-learning modelling tools will be developed, tested and validated for predicting and monitoring the fate of radionuclide uptake by crops and related dynamics at the landscape level, with the emphasis on those under-explored environments and related main crop categories. Protocols will be developed and adapted for innovative spatio-temporal decision support systems for remediation of agricultural land, based on machine learning and operations research integrated with Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques.

The CRP is seeking participants from the fields of radioecology (focus on radionuclides uptake by crops and their movement in the environment) and geomatics (with expertise in machine learning, operations research and decision-support systems) to address the CRP’s research objectives. This project aims to formulate recommendations for decision-makers in Member States on the optimization of remediation of radioactive contamination based on monitoring and prediction of the fate of radiocaesium and radiostrontium in agriculture.

CRP Overall Objective:

To enhance readiness and capabilities of societies for optimizing remediation of agricultural areas affected by large-scale nuclear accidents through innovative monitoring, decision-making and prediction techniques.

Specific Research Objectives:

  • To combine experimental studies with field monitoring and modelling to understand and predict the role of environmental conditions on radiocaesium and radiostrontium transfer in the food chains and their dynamics at landscape level in under-explored agro-ecological environments such as arid, tropical and monsoonal climates.
  • To customise the remedial options in agriculture to under-explored agro-ecological environments and to adapt and develop innovative decision support systems for optimizing remediation of agricultural lands affected by nuclear accidents, based on machine learning and operations research techniques.

How to join this CRP:

In total five research and three technical contracts and five agreements will be awarded in this CRP. Researchers with active R&D programmes in radioecology and/or geomatics for land and water management and land evaluation, and familiar with nuclear emergency response and with the human and technical capacities to meet the objectives of the proposed CRP are invited to apply.

Please submit your Proposal for Research Contract or Agreement by email, no later than 13 May 2019, to the IAEA’s Research Contracts Administration Section, using the appropriate template on the CRA web portal. Note that the same form can be used for the research contract and technical contract. For further information related to this CRP, potential applicants should use the contact form under the CRP page.

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