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

    Terrestrial gamma dose


    The European Terrestrial Gamma Dose Rate map reports the dose rate that a person may receive from terrestrial radiation. This radiation is mostly due to uranium and thorium decay series, and potassium (40K). This is the dose that a person may receive if she/he spends all the time outdoors within the 10 km x 10 km grid cell. The terrestrial gamma radiation has been estimated from the total ambient dose rate data transmitted to the EURDEP system after subtracting 1) cosmic, 2) Radon-washout and 3) internal background effects. Contributions from the Chernobyl NPP accident and global fallout have therefore been neglected.  This map has been developed on a country-by-country basis, namely for those countries for which characterization of the EURDEP stations has been available. For Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Spain, data from their national databases have been used.

    A note on units: In this figure, all countries have used nSv/h for ambient dose equivalent rate, except for Spain and the Czech Republic, which have used nGy/h for absorbed dose rate. The conversion factor between ambient dose equivalent rate and absorbed dose rate could be assumed to be 1 (see the EU Basic Safety Standards Directive,


    • P. Bossew, G. Cinelli, M. Hernández-Ceballos, N. Cernohlawek, V. Gruber, B. Dehandschutter, F. Menneson, M. Bleher, U. Stöhlker, I. Hellmann, F. Weiler, T. Tollefsen, P. V. Tognoli, M. De Cort, 2016. Estimating the terrestrial gamma dose rate by decomposition of the ambient dose equivalent rate. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 166 (2016) 296-308, Download
    • Belgium: F. Tondeur, G. Cinelli, B. Dehandschutter, F. Menneson, J. Rincones, T. Tollefsen. Mapping Terrestrial Gamma Dose Rate: Belgian experience. International Workshop on European Atlas of Natural radiation, Verbania, Italy. 9-13 November 2015. Download
    • Czech Republic: Compilation of the Radiometric Map of the Czech Republic 1:500,000. Section copied from Manová m. and Matolín M. (1998): Radiometric map in Atlas of maps of the Czech Republic GEOCR 500, CD ROM, Czech Geological Survey, Prague. Download
    • Spain: E. Suárez Mahou, J. A. Fernández Amigot, A. Baeza Espasa, M. C. Moro Benito, D. García Pomar, J. Moreno del Pozo, J. M. Lanaja del Busto, 2000. Proyecto Marna. Mapa de radiación gamma natural. Colección Informes Técnicos 5.2000. Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear, Madrid.

    Additional Information

    Resolution: 10000 m

    Last Modified: 28/03/2017

    Update frequency: Irregular