Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. 24/7 Space News .




SHAKE AND BLOW
Floating tsunami trash to be a decades-long headache
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) March 8, 2013


The tsunami that ravaged northeast Japan in March 2011 created the biggest single dumping of rubbish, sweeping some five million tonnes of shattered buildings, cars, household goods and other rubble into the sea.

About three-and-a-half million tonnes, according to official Japanese estimates, sank immediately, leaving some 1.5 million tonnes of plastic, timber, fishing nets, shipping containers, industrial scrap and innumerable other objects to float deeper into the ocean.

Marine experts poring over the disaster say the floating trash adds significantly to the Pacific's already worrying pollution problem.

For many years, and possibly decades, items will be a hazard for shipping, a risk for sea mammals, turtles and birds, a hitchhiking invitation for invasive species and a poorly understood threat to wildlife through plastic micro-particles.

"In a single stroke, the tsunami dumped 3,200 times the amount of rubbish that Japan discharges annually into the Pacific," said Robin des Bois, a French environmental group that is studying the problem.

"In plastic alone, the volume is the equivalent to several decades of accumulated waste in the Atlantic and Pacific."

Early last year, the first debris started to wash up on shores of Oregon, Washington and southern Alaska and the Canadian province of British Columbia.

They were foam and buoys that have "high windage", meaning objects that sit proud of the waves and are easily pushed by the wind.

They were followed by other items that sometimes spoke poignantly of the disaster on the other side of the ocean.

They included a Harley-Davidson motorbike in a container, a football with the owner's name on it, a crewless ship and two massive concrete docks on styrofoam floats.

The docks came from the fishing port of Misawa in Aomori prefecture, yet washed up in Oregon and Washington eight months apart. One dock was rinsed down with bleach as a bio-precaution after it was found to be studded with dozens of foreign species of algae and barnacles.

The docks' odyssey may explain why, contrary to some expectations, there has been no massive landfall of debris.

"NOAA's data suggests that the debris is no longer in a mass or a patch," said Sherry Lippiatt, regional coordinator in California for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's marine debris programme.

"Rather, it has spread out across the vast North Pacific Ocean since it was introduced nearly two years ago."

Indeed, exactly where the trash is and how much remains is unclear.

Much may have sunk or become waterlogged, and scattering means there are no more clusters to be monitored by plane or satellite.

Sightings by passing vessels or fishermen, along with computer models, suggest the bulk of slower-moving debris is located north and east of Hawaii.

Simon Boxall of Britain's National Oceanographic Centre pointed to a circular current, called a gyre, that loops slowly around the North Pacific.

"It heads across the Pacific towards North America, goes down alongside the California coast and then comes round, taking about six or seven years to get back to Japan," he said.

"Most of the debris will follow the gyre," eventually getting trapped in the centre of the vortex in the so-called Pacific Garbage Patch between Hawaii and California, he said. "Some of it could stay for the next 30, 40 years."

Debris in the gyre's northern part tends to split off and head towards the coastline of North America, said Boxall.

It means beach walkers are likely to encounter a disturbing but relentless flow of flotsam for years to come.

"Most of it is pretty harmless," reassured Boxall, adding that any radioactive material from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant was "obviously" an exception.

"Any oils would have been broken down in the open ocean a long time ago, and most of the chemistry will have been dispersed. Big objects, though, may pose a navigational hazard," he said.

A big question mark remains over plastic items that have been degraded to microparticles, Boxall added.

Previous studies on species of North Sea mussels and fish suggest these particles are swallowed by some marine animals and remain in their digestive tracts.

Francois Galgani of France's Ifremer marine research institute said that "absolutely nothing" was known about the risk from nanoparticles, or microparticles that degrade into yet smaller pieces just billionths of a metre across.

"Another problem is the risk of invasive species and debris that has sunk," he said.

"We don't know much about the currents in the deep ocean, but my bet is that there are bound to be places in the depths where the trash is building up."

.


Related Links
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
When the Earth Quakes
A world of storm and tempest






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





SHAKE AND BLOW
Q and A on Japan's disaster two years on
Tokyo (AFP) March 7, 2013
Japan on Monday marks the second anniversary of its worst peace time disaster, when an earthquake-tsunami struck, triggering the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. Below are some commonly asked questions regarding where Japan stands two years since the multiple crises. Q: What happened on March 11, 2011? A: A 9.0-magnitude offshore earthquake struck under Pacific waters off Miyagi prefec ... read more


SHAKE AND BLOW
China to use modified rocket for moon landing mission

Water On The Moon: It's Been There All Along

Building a lunar base with 3D printing

US, Europe team up for moon fly-by

SHAKE AND BLOW
Mars rover 'sleeping' through solar storm

Curiosity Rover's Recovery on Track

NASA's Curiosity rover to be back online next week

Short Bump Gets Robotic Arm Closer to Rock Target

SHAKE AND BLOW
How to predict the progress of technology

Shadows over data sharing

NASA Launches Website to Design Interplanetary Missions

Sequestration and the Civil Space Industry

SHAKE AND BLOW
China's fourth space launch center to be in use in two years

China to launch new manned spacecraft

Woman expected again to join next China crew roster

China's space station will be energy-efficient

SHAKE AND BLOW
'Goody Bag' Filled With Sample Processing Supplies Arrives on Station

ESA's Columbus Biolab Facility

SpaceX set for third mission to space station

Record Number of Students Control ISS Camera

SHAKE AND BLOW
Vega launcher integration continues for its April mission

SpaceX's capsule arrives at ISS

Dragon Transporting Two ISS Experiments For AMES

SpaceX Optimistic Despite Dragon Capsule Mishap

SHAKE AND BLOW
The Birth of a Giant Planet?

Scientists spot birth of giant planet

NASA's Kepler Mission Discovers Tiny Planet System

Kepler helps astronomers find tiny exo planet

SHAKE AND BLOW
SXSW kicks off with vision of a 3D printing revolution

Atoms with Quantum-Memory

Big data: Searching in large amounts of data quickly and efficiently

Neutron scattering provides data on adsorption of ions in microporous materials




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement