Posted by: Katie Allen
Where is the Japan tsunami debris now? An initial prediction made public by the University of Hawaii said the debris would drift eastward after dispersing over the northwestern Pacific, with some matter expected to reach northwest Hawaii by March this year. Check this MODEL. Yet other oceanographers have already been gathering large buoys and other debris washed ashore along the west coast of Washington and British Colombia only 6 months after the tsunami, which they say definitively comes from the tsunami.
There are two maps: IPRC map, and Driftbusters map. The IPRC map shows a blob of debris halfway across the ocean in a year, while the Driftbusters map shows debris halfway across in 6 months. Which is correct?
They both are. The difference is wind. The IPRC Map does not take wind into account, only current. The other includes wind, using data from real drifters. They are both correct because not all debris behaves the same way. Fishing buoys, large pieces of boat hulls only half submerged, empty propane tanks, will all catch wind because of their profile floating high above the water. Like a sail, the wind can push them along. What’s missing is empirical evidence– validation from eyes at sea. There have been only a few such sightings to date. This is one reason why the 5 Gyres/Algalita voyage across the North Pacific is taking place, beginning May 1st for three weeks to Japan, then another 4 weeks to sail back to Hawaii. Aboard the Sea Dragon we will sail through the Tsunami Debris Field to see if observations match predictions. And there are a few seats left for adventurous crew. Click HERE to learn more about joining an expedition.
Blog by Marcus Eriksen/5 Gyres