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Publications

Publications by Susana Alexandra Barbosa

2015

Intrinsic vs. spurious long-range memory in high-frequency records of environmental radioactivity Critical re-assessment and application to indoor Rn-222 concentrations from Coimbra, Portugal

Authors
Donner, RV; Potirakis, SM; Barbosa, SM; Matos, JAO; Pereira, AJSC; Neves, LJPF;

Publication
EUROPEAN PHYSICAL JOURNAL-SPECIAL TOPICS

Abstract
The presence or absence of long-range correlations in the environmental radioactivity fluctuations has recently attracted considerable interest. Among a multiplicity of practically relevant applications, identifying and disentangling the environmental factors controlling the variable concentrations of the radioactive noble gas radon is important for estimating its effect on human health and the efficiency of possible measures for reducing the corresponding exposition. In this work, we present a critical re-assessment of a multiplicity of complementary methods that have been previously applied for evaluating the presence of long-range correlations and fractal scaling in environmental radon variations with a particular focus on the specific properties of the underlying time series. As an illustrative case study, we subsequently re-analyze two high-frequency records of indoor radon concentrations from Coimbra, Portugal, each of which spans several weeks of continuous measurements at a high temporal resolution of five minutes.Our results reveal that at the study site, radon concentrations exhibit complex multi-scale dynamics with qualitatively different properties at different time-scales: (i) essentially white noise in the high-frequency part (up to time-scales of about one hour), (ii) spurious indications of a non-stationary, apparently long-range correlated process (at time scales between some hours and one day) arising from marked periodic components, and (iii) low-frequency variability indicating a true long-range dependent process. In the presence of such multi-scale variability, common estimators of long-range memory in time series are prone to fail if applied to the raw data without previous separation of time-scales with qualitatively different dynamics.

2016

Saharan dust electrification perceived by a triangle of atmospheric electricity stations in Southern Portugal

Authors
Silva, HG; Lopes, FM; Pereira, S; Nicoll, K; Barbosa, SM; Conceicao, R; Neves, S; Harrison, RG; Collares Pereira, MC;

Publication
JOURNAL OF ELECTROSTATICS

Abstract
Atmospheric Electric Potential Gradient (PG) measurements were carried out in three sites forming a triangular array in Southern Portugal. The campaign was performed during the summer, characterized by Saharan dust outbreaks; 16th-17th July 2014 dust event is considered. Short time-scale oscillations of the PG at two of the stations and a mid time-scale suppression of the PG in the three stations are found. Results are interpreted as evidencing long-range dust electrification; attributed to the air-Earth electrical current creating a bipolar charge distribution inside of the dust layer. The relevance of using arrays of sensors, instead of single sited, is highlighted.

2015

Temporal variability of radon in a remediated tailing of uranium ore processing - the case of Urgeirica (central Portugal)

Authors
Barbosa, SM; Lopes, F; Correia, AD; Barbosa, S; Pereira, AC; Neves, LF;

Publication
JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL RADIOACTIVITY

Abstract
Radon monitoring at different levels of the cover of the Urgeirica tailings shows that the sealing is effective and performing as desired in terms of containing the strongly radioactive waste resulting from uranium ore processing. However, the analysis of the time series of radon concentration shows a very complex temporal structure, particularly at depth, including very large and fast variations from a few tens of kBq m(-3) to more than a million kBq m(-3) in less than one day. The diurnal variability is strongly asymmetric, peaking at 18 h/19 h and decreasing very fast around 21 h/22 h. The analysis is performed for summer and for a period with no rain in order to avoid the potential influence of precipitation and related environmental conditions on the radon variability. Analysis of ancillary measurements of temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and wind direction, as well as atmospheric pressure reanalysis data shows that the daily averaged radon concentration in the taillings material is anti-correlated with the atmospheric pressure and that the diurnal amplitude is associated with the magnitude of atmospheric pressure daily oscillations.

2013

Discrete wavelet analysis of the influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation on Baltic Sea level

Authors
Bastos, A; Trigo, RM; Barbosa, SM;

Publication
TELLUS SERIES A-DYNAMIC METEOROLOGY AND OCEANOGRAPHY

Abstract
Mean sea level (MSL) in the Baltic Sea is influenced by several factors and therefore presents a complex behaviour over a wide range of time-scales. This work performs a multi-scale analysis of MSL variability in the Baltic Sea using discrete wavelet analysis. The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is well known for having a strong influence in MSL variability over the Baltic; however, the relationship between MSL and NAO at different time-scales is still little understood. In this work a comparison of MSL and NAO variability is performed for a wide range of temporal scales, uncovering distinct relationships in high-frequency and long-term temporal variability. The annual and sub-annual scales are found to account for more than 50% of the total MSL variability. The MSL annual cycle is analysed and a shift from low to high amplitude values is identified in the 1970s for most stations. MSL is found to be anti-correlated to NAO at short time-scales while on the long-term NAO and MSL appear to be positively correlated for most stations. The physical mechanisms behind these distinct relationships deserve deeper study.

2017

Short-term variability of gamma radiation at the ARM Eastern North Atlantic facility (Azores)

Authors
Barbosa, SM; Miranda, P; Azevedo, EB;

Publication
Journal of Environmental Radioactivity

Abstract
This work addresses the short-term variability of gamma radiation measured continuously at the Eastern North Atlantic (ENA) facility located in the Graciosa island (Azores, 39N; 28W), a fixed site of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement programme (ARM). The temporal variability of gamma radiation is characterized by occasional anomalies over a slowly-varying signal. Sharp peaks lasting typically 2–4 h are coincident with heavy precipitation and result from the scavenging effect of precipitation bringing radon progeny from the upper levels to the ground surface. However the connection between gamma variability and precipitation is not straightforward as a result of the complex interplay of factors such as the precipitation intensity, the PBL height, the cloud's base height and thickness, or the air mass origin and atmospheric concentration of sub-micron aerosols, which influence the scavenging processes and therefore the concentration of radon progeny. Convective precipitation associated with cumuliform clouds forming under conditions of warming of the ground relative to the air does not produce enhancements in gamma radiation, since the drop growing process is dominated by the fast accretion of liquid water, resulting in the reduction of the concentration of radionuclides by dilution. Events of convective precipitation further contribute to a reduction in gamma counts by inhibiting radon release from the soil surface and by attenuating gamma rays from all gamma-emitting elements on the ground. Anomalies occurring in the absence of precipitation are found to be associated with a diurnal cycle of maximum gamma counts before sunrise decreasing to a minimum in the evening, which are observed in conditions of thermal stability and very weak winds enabling the build-up of near surface radon progeny during the night. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd

2015

Radon applications in geosciences - Progress & perspectives

Authors
Barbosa, SM; Donner, RV; Steinitz, G;

Publication
EUROPEAN PHYSICAL JOURNAL-SPECIAL TOPICS

Abstract
During the last decades, the radioactive noble gas radon has found a variety of geoscientific applications, ranging from its utilization as a potential earthquake precursor and proxy of tectonic stress over its specific role in volcanic environments to a wide range of applications as a tracer in marine and hydrological settings. This topical issue summarizes the current state of research as exemplified by some original research articles covering the aforementioned as well as other closely related aspects and points to some important future directions of radon application in geosciences. This editorial provides a more detailed overview of the contents of this volume, a brief summary of the rationale underlying the diverse applications, and outlines some important perspectives.

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