skip to main content


This content will become publicly available on November 20, 2018

Title: Analysis of air mass trajectories to explain observed variability of tritium in precipitation at the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory, California, USA

Understanding the behavior of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, in the environment is important to evaluate the exposure risk of anthropogenic releases, and for its application as a tracer in hydrology and oceanography. To understand and predict the variability of tritium in precipitation, HYSPLIT air mass trajectories were analyzed for 16 aggregate precipitation samples collected over a 2 year period at irregular intervals at a research site located at 2000 m elevation in the southern Sierra Nevada (California, USA). Attributing the variation in tritium to specific source areas confirms the hypothesis that higher latitude or inland sources bring higher tritium levels in precipitation than precipitation originating in the lower latitude Pacific Ocean. In this case, the source of precipitation accounts for 79% of the variation observed in tritium concentrations. In conclusion, air mass trajectory analysis is a promising tool to improve the predictions of tritium in precipitation at unmonitored locations and thoroughly understand the processes controlling transport of tritium in the environment.
ORCiD logo [1] ;  [2] ; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
  2. Univ. of California - Merced, Merced, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0265-931X
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Environmental Radioactivity
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 181; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0265-931X
Research Org:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 58 GEOSCIENCES; Tritium; Precipitation; Air mass trajectory; HYSPLIT
OSTI Identifier: