Stratospheric Tapping by Intense Convective Storms: Implication for Public Health in the United States

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Science  09 Apr 1965:
Vol. 148, Issue 3667, pp. 227-229
DOI: 10.1126/science.148.3667.227


The observation of a cloud-free vortex in the top of a violent convective storm over Oklahoma suggests a mechanism whereby large quantities of air may be brought directly from the lower stratosphere to the lower troposphere in the central part of such storms. That this mechanism, in combination with the torrential rains frequently generated by these systems, is capable of producing radioactive "hot spots" on the ground is pointed out. Climatological considerations and observations of accumulated strontium-90 in soils support the hypothesis that the Plains States are peculiarly subject to heavy contamination compared to other middle-latitude areas because of this mechanism.