Digital Atlas of Natural Radiation

The human population is continuously exposed to ionizing radiation from several natural sources that can be classified in two categories:

  • Cosmic contribution: high-energy cosmic rays incident on the Earth's atmosphere and releasing secondary radiation
  • Terrestrial contribution: radioactive nuclides generated during the formation of the Earth and still present in the Earth's crust: mostly uranium and thorium radioactive families together with potassium (40K), which is a long-lived radioactive isotope of the elemental potassium. In most circumstances radon, a noble gas produced in the radioactive decay of the Uranium progeny, is the major contributor to the total dose.
The European Atlas of Natural Radiation

The European Atlas of Natural Radiation is a collection of maps displaying the levels of radioactivity caused by different natural sources in Europe.

The Atlas is intended to familiarise the public with the radioactive environment, to give a more balanced view of the annual dose that it may receive from natural radioactivity and to provide reference material and generate harmonised data for the scientific community. The overall goal of the Atlas is to estimate the annual dose that the public may receive from natural radioactivity, combining all the information from the different maps. Indeed, natural ionizing radiation is considered the largest contributor to the collective effective dose received by the world population.

The Atlas is developed and maintained by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.

Atlas Maps

    Radon flux


    A radon flux map* for the application in atmospheric tracer transport studies and to support radon protection has been developed based on a process-based modelling approach. Radon production and transport in soil is parameterized based on soil properties, uranium content, and modelled soil moisture from land-surface reanalysis. Spatial variations in radon fluxes are primarily determined by the uranium content of the soil, but also influenced by soil texture and local water-table depth. Temporal variations are related to soil moisture variations as the molecular diffusion in the unsaturated soil zone depends on available air-filled pore space.

    The map is provided on a 0.05° x 0.05° grid for direct use in atmospheric transport models. Monthly maps based on two different soil moisture reanalysis are currently available for 2006-2022.

    *maps available on the ICOS Portal (Integrated Carbon Observation System). Clicking the map above, the navigation will move to a web site that is not managed by the Commission.


    Additional Information

    Resolution: 0.5°

    Last Modified: 31/05/2023

    Update frequency: Irregular