Chernobyl/Chornobyl Project

Launched on the eve of the 35th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, the Chernobyl/Chornobyl project advances our understanding of the catastrophe’s lasting consequences. It takes advantage of methods developed by scholars working in the field of integrative geography, which looks at the spatial aspects of the interaction between the human societies and their environment. Like other MAPA: Digital Atlas of Ukraine projects, it uses GIS-based mapping to present the results of the latest research and serves as research tool and an instrument for posing new research questions. Last but not least, the project aims to educate the general public about the consequences of nuclear disasters.

chornobyl collageHURI’s MAPA team is developing the project in cooperation with a number of partners in Ukraine. Intelligence Systems GEO is a pioneer in the spatial study of the Chornobyl disaster, producing the first Atlas of Radioactive Contamination of Ukraine; this Atlas was the foundation for our Chernobyl/Chornobyl project’s first interactive maps. The Department of Cartography and Geospatial Modeling of Lviv Polytechnic National University provides assistance with mapping changes in the administrative system of Ukraine. The National Research Center for Radiation Medicine of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine is another important partner. The Center has developed a comprehensive database containing the results of the dosimetric study (passportization) of the radioactively contaminated settlements, including individual dose estimates for the residents living in these areas. The National Cancer Registry of Ukraine will provide comprehensive data on the cancer diagnostics after the Chornobyl disaster.

Currently, we focus on several dimensions of the Chornobyl accident consequences: radioactive contamination, irradiation, population dynamics and resettlements, and population health. We use data from the State Statistics Service of Ukraine and our partners to explore regional variations of environmental, demographic, and health-related indicators at different geographic levels: region (oblast), district (raion), and settlement. The interactive maps consist of multiple layers presenting different types of information. Mapping a variety of relevant indicators can help researchers identify relationships between different variables, discover spatial patterns, and better understand the regional dimension of Chornobyl’s consequences.

The maps currently available on the site present the following indicators: 1) cesium 137 contamination of soil and milk; 2) radioactive contamination zoning: official zones vs. zones based on dosimetric passportization; 3) estimated thyroid irradiation doses of population, by age; 4) changes in population between the censuses of 1979, 1989, and 2001, and data on resettlements; 5) a set of demographic indicators: crude death rate, crude birth rate, the rate of natural increase/decrease, all-cause age-standardized death rate, age-standardized death rate from some types of cancers, life expectancy; and 6) select data on morbidity. As we continue this project, we expect to map a full range of indicators.

By focusing on small geographic units, such as raions, and by comparing the indicators for highly contaminated, less contaminated, and not-affected areas, we present a comprehensive picture of the radioecological situation and demographic changes across the territory of Ukraine and over time. We hope that these visualizations can expand regional data analysis and help MAPA users more deeply explore the impact of the Chornobyl accident on the environment and population.

View the Chernobyl/Chornobyl Web Map

Chornobyl project screenshot