Tuesday, February 14, 2012

25 Million Tons of Debris from Japanese Tsunami Headed for North America

Remnants of Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami are headed for the California shoreline - 25million tons of it.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck coastal towns near Sendai on March 11, 2011 triggered an avalanche of wreckage now drifting toward North America.

The floating debris - which includes destroyed homes, wrecked fishing vessels, and even human remains - is shown in a computerized projection crafted by researchers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who say by 2014 the wreckage will stretch from Alaska to Mexico.

The projections, made by Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner at the International Pacific Research Center, show a destructive path covering more than 4,500 miles on Pacific Ocean currents, pushed by wind and water to reach the far-reaching beaches of North America.

One float, the size of a 55-gallon drum, was found in Washington in December; another was reportedly discovered in Vancouver, Canada. However, much more is expected to wash ashore in the coming months, according to the report.

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According to the report, by next year the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument will see continued effects; and in two years, the plume will reach the US West Coast, 'dumping debris on Californian beaches and the beaches of British Columbia, Alaska, and Baja California'.
However, not everyone agrees that it will be as large a problem as predicted.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Pacific Islands Director Kris McElwee told the San Jose Mercury News other major disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, did not result in such large amounts of debris washing up to shores in other countries.

According to the outlet, 'Instead, the flotsam caused problems near the beaches where it originated, creating hazards for ships and disrupting commercial fishing.'
There are maps at the site for the story.

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