Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Where will the debris from Japan's tsunami drift in the ocean?

Date:
April 6, 2011
Source:
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Summary:
The huge tsunami triggered by the 9.0 Tohoku earthquake destroyed coastal towns near Sendai in Japan, washing such things as houses and cars into the ocean. Based on a model derived from past trajectories of drifting buoys, projections of where this debris might head over the next five to six years have been made.

This figure shows the probable pathways of the debris that entered the ocean on March 11, 2011, as estimated from historical trajectories of drifting buoys.
Credit: Nikolai Maximenko, International Pacific Research Center

The huge tsunami triggered by the 9.0 Tohoku Earthquake destroyed coastal towns near Sendai in Japan, washing such things as houses and cars into the ocean. Projections of where this debris might head have been made by Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa. Maximenko has developed a model based on the behavior of drifting buoys deployed over years in the ocean for scientific purposes.

The debris first spreads out eastward from the Japan Coast in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. In a year, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument will see pieces washing up on its shores; in two years, the remaining Hawaiian islands will see some effects; in three years, the plume will reach the US West Coast, dumping debris on Californian beaches and the beaches of British Columbia, Alaska, and Baja California. The debris will then drift into the famous North Pacific Garbage Patch, where it will wander around and break into smaller and smaller pieces. In five years, Hawaii shores can expect to see another barrage of debris that is stronger and longer-lasting than the first one. Much of the debris leaving the North Pacific Garbage Patch ends up on Hawaii's reefs and beaches.

These model projections will help to guide clean-up and tracking operations. Tracking will be important in determining what happens to different materials in the tsunami debris, for example, how the composition of the debris plume changes with time, and how the winds and currents separate objects drifting at different speeds.

Even before the tsunami, the World Ocean was a dump for rubbish flowing in from rivers, washed off beaches, and jettisoned from oil and gas platforms and from fishing, tourist, and merchant vessels. Marine debris has become a serious problem for marine ecosystems, fisheries, and shipping. The presentations given at the recent week-long 5th International Marine Debris Conference in Hawaii, at which Maximenko had organized a day-long workshop, are a testimony to the magnitude of the ocean debris problem. The massive, concentrated debris launched by the devastating tsunami is now magnifying the hazards.

Maximenko's long-standing work on ocean currents and transports predicted that there are five major regions in the World Ocean where debris collects if it is not washed up on shores or sinks to the ocean bottom, deteriorates, or is ingested by marine organisms. These regions turn out to be "garbage patches." The North Pacific Garbage Patch has become famous, the North Atlantic Patch was fixed some years ago, and the South Atlantic, South Indian Ocean, and South Pacific patches have just been found, guided by the map of his model that shows where floating marine debris should collect.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Hawaii at Manoa. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Hawaii at Manoa. "Where will the debris from Japan's tsunami drift in the ocean?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110406102203.htm>.
University of Hawaii at Manoa. (2011, April 6). Where will the debris from Japan's tsunami drift in the ocean?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110406102203.htm
University of Hawaii at Manoa. "Where will the debris from Japan's tsunami drift in the ocean?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110406102203.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers

California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — California's record drought is hurting honey supplies and raising prices for consumers. The lack of rainfall means fewer crops and wildflowers that provide the nectar bees need to make honey. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Species Found In Lake Under Antarctic Ice

Thousands Of Species Found In Lake Under Antarctic Ice

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — A U.S. team found nearly 4,000 species in a subglacial lake that hasn't seen sunlight in millennia, showing life can thrive even under the ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — Poachers have killed 100,000 elephants between 2010 and 2012, as the booming ivory trade takes its toll on the animals in Africa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) — Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins