Simulating the ocean path of debris from Japan’s tsunami

Researchers at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa. have created a simulation predicting the path of debris from the devastating Japanese tsunami on March 11, 2011.

Map predicting Pacific debris drift following  the Japan tsunami

Credit: Nikolai Maximenko, International Pacific Research Center

The computer model, based on historical trajectories of drifting buoys, shows flotsam slowly diffusing Eastwards across the Pacific. The first wave reaching Northwestern Hawaii in about a year, the rest of Hawaii in a couple of years and in three years the plume hitting the US west coast.

The trash is expected to break into smaller pieces over time, much of it ending up circling the North Pacific Garbage Patch, or being dumped on Hawaii’s reefs and beaches in a second barrage in about 5 years time.

You can view the full simulation in this GIF animation on the IPRC website. For more information see the official press release (PDF) .

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One Response to Simulating the ocean path of debris from Japan’s tsunami

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