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Projecting the Path of Japan's Tsunami Debris - SOEST

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					                      Projecting the Path of Japan’s Tsunami Debris
                                       Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner


                                                                 IPRC scientists have developed a statistical
                                                                 ocean current model based on actual trajectories
                                                                 of drifting buoys (a form of marine debris)
                                                                 deployed by oceanographers over many years.
                                                                 The model has successfully predicted the
                                                                 accumulation of plastic debris in 5 so-called
                                                                 “garbage patches” in the subtropical gyres.
                                                                 They are using this model to project the path of
                                                                 the material washed into the ocean by the
                                                                 devastating March 11, 2011 tsunami. The results
                                                                 indicate that the plume of floating debris will
                                                                 spread eastward from the Japanese coast in the
                                                                 North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. The North-
                                                                 western Hawaiian Islands will see tsunami
                                                                 debris washing up on their shores in a year; the
                                                                 US West Coast in 3 years; the remaining debris
                                                                 will drift into the North Pacific Garbage Patch.
                                                                 Some of the debris is then predicted to escape
                                                                 the gyre and arrive on Hawaii’s beaches in about
Snapshots from the model projections for the trajectory of the   5 years.
floating tsunami debris. Red indicates highest debris
concentration, light purple, least.
                                                                 These projections will help guide clean-up and
                                                                 tracking operations.

				
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posted:9/6/2011
language:English
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