Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Scot measures cosmic rays on Everest

Mountain glow

A Scot climbing Everest to take readings of cosmic rays at altitude is probably unusual enough to earn a mention.

Getting off the ground and into the air by any means is enough to take you higher into the atmosphere and reduce the level of protection it offers from such radiation, even flying increases exposure, and there have been concerns expressed over the effect on pilots and crew, although the effect is small. Annual individual doses of all monitored flight personnel are well below the limit of 2,000 mrem per year recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP).

I found this:

Bottollier-Depois JF et al. Assessing exposure to cosmic radiation during long-haul flights. Radiat Res 153(5 Pt. 1):526-32; 2000.

  • The lowest dose rate measured was 0.3 mrem per hour during a Paris-Buenos Aires flight.
  • The highest rates were 0.66 mrem per hour during a Paris-Tokyo flight and 0.97 mrem per hour on the Concorde in 1996-1997.
  • The corresponding annual effective dose, based on 700 hours of flight for subsonic aircraft and 300 hours for the Concorde, can be estimated at between 200 mrem for the least exposed routes and 500 mrem for the more exposed routes.

A number of similar reports have come to the same conclusion. The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) recommends a monthly equivalent dose limit of 50 mrem. The ICRP recommends the radiation limit during pregnancy be 200 mrem.

So, it’s unlikely that the Everest results will bring any surprises or shocks for climbers.


The Everest readings were taken by Bob Kerr, a radiation protection adviser at the Dounreay nuclear plant in Caithness (DSRL). Unfortunately, a medical condition prevented him from reaching the summit n person, but a sherpa helped by agreeing to take the instruments there and complete the measurements.

It’s hoped readings will help Everest climbers, guides, and sherpas  better understand the levels they are exposed to.

The results are to be presented at a Society for Radiological Protection meeting, in south port in 2014.

Via Scots climber to present Everest cosmic radiation readings


September 1, 2013 - Posted by | Civilian | , , , ,

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