Tsunami debris approaching Hawaii/US West Coast
Japanese Tsunami debris approaching Hawaii & West Coast
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 17 February, 2012 : - - The tsunami that followed on the heels of the March 11,2011, earthquake in Japan produced millions of tons of debris much of which was swept into the ocean. What stayed afloat drifted apart under the influence of winds and currents, most of it eastward. Predicted to reach the West Coast of the United States and Hawaii within the coming years, the debris’ composition and how much is still floating on the surface are largely unknown.
One thing is certain: the debris is hazardous to navigation, marine life, and when washed ashore, to coastlines. To track where this debris is headed, a team of scientists and conservationists from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and at Hilo, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the Ocean Recovery Alliance created a plan shortly after the tsunami to survey the debris field and mark it with satellite-tracked drifting buoys. This drifter array would then be used to monitor the debris’ movement remotely and provide warnings.
At the end of September 2011 the Russian Sail Training Ship Pallada reported the edge of the debris field 250 miles northwest of Midway, and picked up 100 miles further on, a 20-foot boat from Fukushima, which had been lost during the tsunami.
Debris from the March 11,2011 Tsunami : US Navy
Ocean currents play major role in carrying (advecting) both floating matter and matter dissolved in sea water. Thanks to the networks of drifting buoys, maintained globally in recent decades, as well as to the use of satellites, knowledge of the surface currents and quality of models diagnosing and forecasting currents at the ocean surface are greatly improved.
The debris from Japan is expected to drift eastward and will reach Midway Island in approximately one year. In approximately two years, it may reach the US West Coast. Most of the debris plume will then re-circulate to the southeast, potentially reaching the convergence zone northeast of Hawaii called the North Pacific Gyre. If the material does not sink or biodegrade, it can remain in this area for many decades, potentially polluting Hawaiian beaches when storms or winds are strong enough to move some of the material from the convergence area to shore.
Tracking of debris plotted on daily basis.
The SCUD diagnostic model of surface currents is emplyed to track tracers relased from the NE coast of Japan on 11 March 2011. The total number of tracers released is 678,305 and they are intially distributed along the NE coast of Japan and weighted relative to the population.
Predicted progress of 'Tsunami Debris Plume'
There are many issues that debris from a tsunami present within the marine environment:
1. Large dense patches of floating debris are an immediate threat to maritime safety, including safety of fishery activities.
2. Debris may shelter different species that are characteristic for the coastal waters of Japan and help them to survive a trans-Pacific voyage to the waters of the US West Coast and Hawaii.
3. Tsunami debris may increase the amount of plastic and other material that has accumulated in the North Pacific, and may exaggerate its impact on the ecosystem throughout the ocean.
Check the Model-Predicted Tsunami Debris Paths
The daily debris field from daily winds and sea level height
15-year projections of the debris field from statistical model
Source: International Pacific Research Center
Autor: Press release
Tags, Tsunami, Miday, Hawaii, West Coat, Pacific,