Behaviour and Effects of Natural and Anthropogenic Radionuclides in the Marine Environment and their use as Tracers for Oceanography Studies

Closed for proposals

Project Type

Coordinated Research Project

Project Code




Start Date

18 April 2017

Expected End Date

17 April 2021


Radionuclides released into the environment enter the oceans directly or indirectly via the atmosphere and surface and groundwater. Certain industrial processes such as offshore oil and gas extraction can also lead to increased fluxes of naturally occurring radionuclides to the marine environment. The nature of such releases (i.e. type of release, location, magnitude and duration) as well as physical, chemical and biological processes in the global oceans mean that levels of anthropogenic and naturally occurring radionuclides can vary significantly from one marine area to another and change over time. For IAEA Member States which rely on the marine environment and marine resources, such knowledge is important in order to evaluate the risk of any economic, social, human and environmental health impacts.

The overall objective of this CRP, for convenience known as LAMER (Levels and Assessment of Marine Environmental Radioactivity), is to develop and apply data compilation/ integration, processing and modelling methodologies for the determination of levels, distributions, trends, behaviours and effects of radionuclides in the marine environment. In order to provide an up to date overview, in the initial phase of the CRP, data on global marine radioactivity measurements that have been performed in the past decade are being collated. The result of this work will constitute a comprehensive and reliable baseline that will be publically available through the IAEA and against which any future changes can then be compared. In parallel, LAMER aims to provide Member States with guidance on undertaking assessments of marine radioactivity using the methodologies developed and applied in the CRP. Furthermore, LAMER aims to highlight the use of natural and anthropogenic radionuclides as tracers of different oceanographic processes and how such knowledge can extend our understanding of the fate and behaviour of radionuclides in the marine environment.

Why is a new assessment of ocean radioactivity relevant?

The IAEA has previously coordinated assessments of radioactivity in the global marine environment in the CRPs MARDOS and WOMARS, which were completed in 1995 and 2005. As more than a decade has passed since the previous CRP, once completed, LAMER will provide a new benchmark in which current best practice methodologies for data integration, processing and modelling are adopted. Furthermore, while IAEA Member States have continued to carry out measurements of radionuclides in the marine environment since WOMARS, data and knowledge gaps persist. Although the IAEA MARiS data system stands as a global repository for marine radioactivity data, there is a need to ensure that the collective data gathering efforts of IAEA Member States and research scientists have been reported to this database. Through a comprehensive update of the IAEA MARiS database, this CRP aims to communicate reliable and relevant information that addresses the scientific and public interest in marine radioactivity.

LAMER, began earlier in 2017and is expected to be finalised in 2021, with the results to be published in an IAEA report, peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals and via other channels.

The CRP kicked off with its first research coordination meeting (RCM) at the IAEA Environment Laboratories in Monaco in June 2017. The purpose of this meeting was to develop a detailed work plan for LAMER and to allocate responsibilities and deadlines for specific activities.

Would you like to contribute?

The CRP is collating data on radionuclides in the marine environment to update the current IAEA MARiS database. A standard reporting format and instructions are available to help to ensure harmonisation. While the CRP has contacted institutes in IAEA member states and regional data centres directly, the call for the reporting of data is open to all research projects, organisations and scientists. Further information on LAMER and data provision will be issued shortly. In the meantime if you wish to learn more about this project, please contact CRP Project Officer Paul McGinnity at the IAEA Environment Laboratories (


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