After being pulled away from my online life for quite a while, I regret that my first post back is not happy news. With apologies for sticking my neck into Miriam’s territory, but University of Hawaii researchers have recently modeled the projected path of debris that was washed out to sea following the March 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. The data appears to indicate that Hawaii’s reefs and coastlines will be impacted a second time:
The researchers predict that the debris will first spread out eastward from the Japan Coast in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. In a year, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument will see pieces washing up on its shores; in two years, the remaining Hawaiian islands will see some effects; in three years, the plume will reach the U.S. West Coast, dumping debris on Californian beaches and the beaches of British Columbia, Alaska, and Baja California. The debris will then drift into the famous North Pacific Garbage Patch, where it will wander around and break into smaller pieces. In five years, Hawaiʻi shores can expect to see another barrage of debris that is stronger and longer-lasting than the first one. Much of the debris leaving the North Pacific Garbage Patch ends up on Hawaiʻi’s reefs and beaches.