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Russian scientists have discovered unusually high levels of radiation on Severny Island, which is part of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Kara Sea. Their findings were published in a recent edition of the journal Oceanology. The Russian Science Fund also announced the discovery in a press release, which was picked up by news website Lenta.ru.
According to the publications, extremely high levels of radioactive caesium were found on the edge of the Severny Island ice cap. Dust samples of material taken from the Goluboi glacier on the island exhibited an even higher level of radioactive caesium.
The presence of americium radionuclides in the samples indicates that the primary source of the nuclear contamination is nuclear explosions in the Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists came to this conclusion following an analysis of glaciological radiation in 2015 during an expedition by the research ship Akademik Mstislav Keldysh.
Nuclear explosions carried out on the island as part of scientific research in the Soviet era provided a secondary source of nuclear contamination A number of tests were carried out on Severny Island at the end of 1962, during which radioactive material fell onto the surface of the ice sheets.