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Results of the 2012 MCAF Japanese Tsunami Monitoring Program

Results of the 2012 MCAF Japanese Tsunami Monitoring Program

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Published by juneautek

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Published by: juneautek on Jul 14, 2012
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07/10/2013

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Page
1
of 
14
 
Results
 
of 
 
the
 
2012
 
MCAF
 
Japanese
 
Tsunami
 
Monitoring
 
Program
 
Marine
 
Conservation
 
Alliance
 
Foundation
 
2
 
Marine
 
Way,
 
Suite
 
227
 
Juneau,
 
Alaska
 
99801
 
&
 
4005
 
20th
 
Avenue
 
W
 
Ste
 
115
 
Seattle,
 
WA
 
98199
 
June
 
26,
 
2012
 
(version
 
2)
 
Funded
 
by
 
the
 
National
 
Oceanic
 
and
 
Atmospheric
 
Administration
 
 
Page
2
of 
14
 
Table of Contents
Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 3
 
Establishing the Monitoring Program ............................................................................................. 5
 
Results ............................................................................................................................................. 7
 
Craig ............................................................................................................................................ 7
 
Sitka ............................................................................................................................................ 8
 
Yakutat ........................................................................................................................................ 9
 
Kodiak ....................................................................................................................................... 10
 
Radiation ....................................................................................................................................... 12
 
Discussion ..................................................................................................................................... 13
 
 Figure 1. Basketball found in Craig was returned to Kesen middle school in Japan.
 
Page
3
of 
14
 
Introduction
On March 11, 2011 a powerful 9.0 magnitude earthquake occurred 81 miles off the coast of Japan. A large tsunami, with wave heights up to 33 ft., washed over three prefectures (Iwate,Miyagi and Fukushima) inundating approximately 459 sq mi. The tsunami created more than 20million tons of debris of which 5 million tons was estimated to have been washed into the ocean.The Japanese Ministry of the Environment has estimated that 70% of this amount sank, leaving1.5 million tons (or 3 billion pounds) adrift in the ocean. The debris fields were so dense thatthey were able to be tracked by satellite photos until April 14, 2011. At that time, agenciesturned to modeling exercises to estimate when and where the debris may go.The general patterns of the current in the North Pacific are well known. The debris entered intoan eastward moving current where the north and south moving currents of the North Equatorialand Subarctic gyres meet off the coast of Japan (Figure 2). The current is estimated to move atapproximately six miles per day. Modeling exercises based on these current speeds projectedthat the debris would make landfall on the west coast of North America in the spring of 2013.However, debris identified as possibly being generated by the tsunami made landfall on the westcoast in December 2011, eight months after the tsunami. Soon after, other sightings of debris possibly generated by the tsunami were reported in Washington State and the Province of BritishColumbia. Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, publisher of Beachcombers’ Alert, noted that this could beexpected from debris that has a high “windage” factor 
1
.
 Figure 2. Ocean currents of the North Pacific.
1
Windage is defined as the sum effect of the wind on the movement of an object in water. Ahigh windage factor results from a large sail area and low drag, such as a piece of Styrofoam or a buoy with no lines attached. A small windage factor results with a low sail area and a high drag,such as a piece of wood.

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