Applications of Cosmogenic Isotopes as Atmospheric Tracers

  • D. LalEmail author
  • M. Baskaran
Part of the Advances in Isotope Geochemistry book series (ADISOTOPE)


Earth’s atmosphere is constantly bombarded by cosmic-ray particles and the interaction of these cosmic-ray particles with the target nuclei continuously produce a suite of radionuclides which serve as powerful tracers to identify and quantify several atmospheric processes. These include sources and transport and mixing of air masses, exchange of air-masses between various layers of the atmosphere (e.g., stratosphere–troposphere exchange, STE), residence times of atmospheric gases, removal rates and residence times of atmospheric pollutants to name a few. Combining the cosmogenic radionuclides with other naturally-occurring (primarily daughter products of 222Rn) and anthropogenic (mainly derived from nuclear weapons testing) radionuclides, have significantly aided to improve our understanding of the time scales involved with the interhemispheric exchange, meridional mixing and cross-Equator mixing as well as residence time of tropospheric aerosols. In this article, we review some of the key applications of cosmogenic radionuclides tracers in the atmosphere.


Planetary Boundary Layer Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Atmospheric Dust Cosmogenic Nuclide Cosmogenic Isotope 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank two reviewers (Karl Turekian and an anonymous) for several useful suggestions to extend the scope of the text.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeologyWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA

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