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Temporal trends in 137Cs concentrations in the bark, sapwood, heartwood, and whole wood of four tree species in Japanese forests from 2011 to 2016

Shinta Ohashi, Katsushi Kuroda, Tsutomu Takano, Youki Suzuki, Takeshi Fujiwara, Hisashi Abe, Akira Kagawa, Masaki Sugiyama, Yoshitaka Kubojima, Chunhua Zhang, Koichi Yamamoto
Journal of environmental radioactivity 2017 v.178-179 pp. 335-342
Chamaecyparis obtusa, Cryptomeria japonica, Pinus densiflora, Quercus, accidents, bark, cesium, decontamination, forests, heartwood, nuclear power, power plants, prediction, radioactivity, radionuclides, sapwood, stems, stemwood, temporal variation, trees, Japan
To understand the changes in radiocesium (¹³⁷Cs) concentrations in stem woods after the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident, we investigated ¹³⁷Cs concentrations in the bark, sapwood, heartwood, and whole wood of four major tree species at multiple sites with different levels of radiocesium deposition from the FDNPP accident since 2011 (since 2012 at some sites): Japanese cedar at four sites, hinoki cypress and Japanese konara oak at two sites, and Japanese red pine at one site. Our previous report on ¹³⁷Cs concentrations in bark and whole wood samples collected from 2011 to 2015 suggested that temporal variations were different among sites even within the same species. In the present study, we provided data on bark and whole wood samples in 2016 and separately measured ¹³⁷Cs concentrations in sapwood and heartwood samples from 2011 to 2016; we further discussed temporal trends in ¹³⁷Cs concentrations in each part of tree stems, particularly those in ¹³⁷Cs distributions between sapwood and heartwood, in relation to their species and site dependencies. Temporal trends in bark and whole wood samples collected from 2011 to 2016 were consistent with those reported in samples collected from 2011 to 2015. Temporal variations in ¹³⁷Cs concentrations in barks showed either a decreasing trend or no clear trend, implying that ¹³⁷Cs deposition in barks is inhomogeneous and that decontamination is relatively slow in some cases. Temporal trends in ¹³⁷Cs concentrations in sapwood, heartwood, and whole wood were different among species and also among sites within the same species. Relatively common trends within the same species, which were increasing, were observed in cedar heartwood, and in oak sapwood and whole wood. On the other hand, the ratio of ¹³⁷Cs concentration in heartwood to that in sapwood (fresh weight basis) was commonly increased to more than 2 in cedar, although distinct temporal trends were not found in the other species, for which the ratio was around 1 in cypress and pine and below 0.5 in oak, suggesting that ¹³⁷Cs transfer from sapwood to heartwood shows species dependency. Consequently, the species dependency of ¹³⁷Cs transfer within the tree appears easily, while that from the environment to the trees can be masked by various factors. Thus, prediction of ¹³⁷Cs concentrations in stem wood should be carried out carefully as it still requires investigations at multiple sites with a larger sample size and an understanding of the species-specific ¹³⁷Cs transfer mechanism.