Honolulu, January 28, 2016
One-third of the 78 million tons of plastic produced annually leaks from landfills. Much of this ends in the ocean, jeopardizing ever more fishes and other marine life on which we depend. On January 19-21, the IPRC hosted the Workshop on Mission Concepts for Marine Debris Sensing, which was sponsored by NASA Physical Oceanography and co-organized by Remote Sensing Solutions, Inc. The international group of oceanographers, remote sensing scientists, and marine debris experts came together to review existing and emerging technologies and to draft the mission objectives. Discussions included characterization of different types of debris, identification of gaps in our knowledge, and requirements for the future observing system. The meeting began work on a white paper that will be produced with contributions from a larger scientific community. (Click for photo)
Honolulu, November 17, 2015
The book 438 Days, just published by Simon & Schuster and authored by Jonathan Franklin, tells the story of the fisherman Jose Salvador Alvarenga's over 14-month-long drift from Mexico westward across the Pacific to Ebon Atoll in the Marshall Islands. To verify his unlikely story, Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner had run the IPRC Drift model by placing tracers into the model 200 nautical miles southwest of the coastal fishing village Chiapas, Mexico, on December 20, 2012, around the time that Jose Salvador Alvarenga says he was blown off shore. The simulations, which they published in February 2014, confirmed the fisherman’s story, and they were then contacted by Franklin, who has acknowledged in his book their help “to understand the wild of the Pacific Ocean."
Honoluu, Wednesday, November 10, 2015
The team from Holomua Elementary School that interviewed Jan Hafner about microplastic for the Trash TreckSM 2015 FIRST LEGO League Robotic Competition, won at the District Challenge first place for both Robot Mission and Project Presentation. Their winning design is a solar-powered Nurdle Turtle, inspired in part by Hafner’s description of floating and sinking debris. About 5-ft. long & 4-ft. tall, the turtle scoops up sand that is then deposited into a compartment filled with water. The sand sinks while the microplastic floats to the top, where it is collected by a robotic arm and dropped into a second compartment where it stays until emptied. A trap door opens to release the sand.
We wish the team good luck on December 5, when they compete at the Hawaii State level at Neal Blaisdell Center.
Honolulu, October 7, 2015
Jan Hafner has been busy helping student-groups prepare for the 2015 FIRST® LEGO League, which has the theme "TRASH TREKSM Challenge". His pictures and simulations let students understand how ocean debris moves through the gyres and collects in "garbage patches." He shows them real pieces that have drifted to Hawaii from the 2011 tsunami as well as other plastic debris of various shapes and sizes, including nearly invisible micro plastics.This all makes the students aware of the huge ocean debris problem. In the photo you see a group of 5th grade Punahou students with Hafner (right) and Nikolai Maximenko. Together with Kin Wang, Hafner held a similar session via Face Time with students at Holomua Elementary School.
Honolulu, August 6, 2015
The IPRC Marine Debris Drift Model has simulated the flow paths of the flaperon from the likely crash site of Flight MH370 to Reunion and also maps to guide on-shore search for Flight MH370 Debris The developers of this model, Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner, have been using it to successfully simulate the pathways of millions of tons of marine debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan. View the simulation and the maps.
Honolulu, July 22, 2015
Melanie Vianna Alencar joined the IPRC marine debris team this summer as intern. An undergraduate oceanography student from Brazil, Melanie is on an 18-month scholarship of the Brazilian government program called “Ciências sem Fronteiras” (Science Without Borders). Most of her internship she is spending at Monterey Bay California State University. She chose to come to the IPRC for the 2-month-internship requirement to study marine debris problems. Working with Nikolai Maximenko, Jan Hafner, and Kin Lik Wang, she sorted samples of macro and microplastic collected during the last excursion to Hawaii Island, quality controlled the IPRC Japan tsunami marine debris database, monitored marine debris on Oahu windward beaches, and met international sailors and local groups working on marine debris. It was a fruitful and productive visit for all. Read Melanie’s story.
Honolulu, May 18, 2015
Honolulu, March15, 2015
On the anniversary of the devastating March 2011 tsunami in Japan, members of the North Pacific Marine Science Organization and the Japan Ministry of Education are holding a joint conference in Honolulu to present findings of their project on the tsunami and marine debris. Surprising is that several fishing skiffs lost in the tsunami are washing up on Hawaii beaches four years after the disaster. IPRC’s Tsunami and Marine Debris Model and the Sightings page made it into the news once again. Read more.
Honlulu, March 15, 2015
The International Pacific Research Center once again welcomed 21 Japanese high school students and their 3 teachers. They were from Morioka Daisan High School. The purpose of their trip to Hawaii was to be exposed to spoken English in an academic environment with a science focus. Morioka, the capital of Iwate Prefecture, suffered much devastation in the March 2011 tsunami. The students thus listened attentively to the 90 minute powerpoint presentation by IPRC’s Jan Hafner about the IPRC tsunami and marine debris model and how the model was able to track the travels of the debris across the ocean to the North Pacific Coast, and some of it into the Great Garbage Patch and then onto the north-east facing shores of Hawaii. Read more.
Honolulu, January 8, 2015
The IPRC Tsunami Debris Model of Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner took center stage in maps on the poster “Effect of Marine Debris Caused by the Great Tsunami of 2011,” presented at the 2nd International Ocean Research Conference in Barcelona by Alexander Bychkov, PICES Executive Secretary and coordinator of the project on the impact of invasive species arriving along the US West Coast in the 2011 tsunami debris. Of 400 entries, this poster is one of 10 that is posted on sailboats taking part in the Barcelona World Race. The invasive species project is funded by the Japan Ministry of the Environment.
Honolulu, November 30, 2014
IPRC’s Jan Hafner was interviewed by Amber Liggett for an episode about the Great Pacific Patch on Millersville University Weather Watch TV. The video shows the circulation in the North Pacific and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Hafner described how as a result of wind and currents, garbage accumulates in the patch and, how at times during storms and strong winds, some of the garbage is pushed out of the patch again. You can view the YouTube Video: Liggett’s story goes from 2:00 to 4:15 minutes, with Hafner’s interview starting at 2:35.
Honolulu, November 10, 2014
“Transport of marine debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan: Model simulations and observational evidence,” was the title of the talk by IPRC’s Jan Hafner at the 2014 North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) Annual Meeting, Toward a better understanding of the North Pacific: Reflecting on the past and steering for the future. Sponsored and organized by PICES, the meeting was held October 16-26, 2014, in Yeosu, Republic of Korea, and hosted by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology, and the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute. Click here for Hafner’s presentation as a PDF.
Monday, September 15, 2014
Jan Hafner talked with Code Green host Howard Wiig on the topic “Plastic, Plastic Everywhere!” Hafner was invited to the show on account of his and Nikolai Maximenko’s work on the IPRC Marine Debris Model. During the interview, he showed different types of plastic pieces gathered on Kamilo Beach to illustrate how large pieces break down into tiny sand-like pieces that are then eaten by fish, thereby leading to chemicals in the plastic entering the food chain. Solutions to the ocean’s plastic problem by preventing more plastic entering the ocean and ways to collect the plastic were discussed. To see the show click here.
Washington, June 17, 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry and environmental activist Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio were briefed by NASA Physical Oceanography Program Scientist Eric Lindstrom on NASA’s ocean observing capabilities at "Our Ocean" Conference of the US Department of State. Lindstrom included in the session the IPRC Tsunami Debris Model developed by IPRC’s Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner. Click for photo.
Kauai, May 16, 2014
A buoy from Onahama Bay, the port of Iwaki City in Tohoku, was washed away during the 2011 tsunami in Japan. It was picked up by the US Navy off Kauai shores in January 2013 and now forms at Port Allen the centerpiece of a memorial to the tragic tsunami. The dedication ceremony featured speakers and cultural activities from both Iwaki City and Kauai County, which coincidentally are "sister cities." IPRC’s Nikolai Maximenko estimated the buoy’s nearly two-year journey across the Pacific based on calculations with the IPRC tsunami debris model he developed together with Jan Hafner. The map of the calculated path is featured on the memorial's plaque, which lists IPRC as one of the sponsors. See plaque photo; watch video; watch HawaiiNewsNow; and read Star-Advertiser. Read news reported in Japan: minpo and minyu-net.
Honolulu, March 11, 2014
On the 3-year anniversary of the tragic tsunami in Japan, IPRC's Nikolai Maximenko was interviewed by Cam Tran of KITV4 about his work on tracking the tsunami driftage in his model and in observations. He described the different type of debris arriving in Hawaii during the three years: very boyant objects about 18 months after the tragedy, then refrigerator parts and little boats, and recently pieces sitting deep in the water such as large beams and poles. Many pieces, especially the plastic ones will break apart with time into smaller and smaller pieces that recirculate in the ocean and become ingested by birds and marine animals. See interview.
Honolulu, March 6, 2014
Upon reports of a huge beam washing up on the shore near Travaasa Hana Resort on the east end of Maui, Gary Kubota from the Star-Advertiser interviewed IPRC’s Nikolai Maximenko. Maximenko said he suspected the wooden beam to be from the tragic 2011 tsunami in Japan, as pictures showed that the beam had similar mortise and tenon features as other beams that have recently been reaching Hawaii shores, including wood from houses broken apart in the disaster. Wind and currents are the two major factors influencing the drift of the tsunami debris. Read more in Star-Advertiser Print Replica.
Honolulu, February 21, 2014
The amount of debris in the ocean is growing exponentially, becoming more and more hazardous and harmful to marine life and therefore to our ocean food source. The technology of measuring the movements of such debris is still in its infancy. The driftage generated by the tragic 2011 tsunami in Japan gave IPRC's Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner a unique chance to learn about the effects of currents and winds on floating materials as they move across the North Pacific Ocean. The outcomes are presented at the Ocean Sciences 2014 meeting. See PowerPoint presentation. Read more in International Business Times, and in Ideas, Inventions, and Innovations; and Science Daily.
Honolulu, February 11, 2014
The fisherman’s improbable 13-month voyage from Mexico westward across the Pacific agrees with simulations of a computer model developed at the University Hawaii Manoa International Pacific Research Center. Senior Scientist Nikolai Maximenko and Scientific Programmer Jan Hafner placed 16 tracers into their ocean model 200 nautical miles southwest of the coastal fishing village Chiapas, Mexico, on December 20, 2012, around the time that Jose Salvador Alvarenga says he was blown off shore. Read more in Star-Advertiser and in press release.
Honolulu, February 10, 2014
At a special awards luncheon on February 7, 2014, IPRC’s Senior Researcher Nikolai Maximenko, Scientific Programmer Jan Hafner, and Outreach Specialist Gisela Speidel were honored as "RCUH 2013 Outstanding Employees of the Year." The award recognized their achievements as a team dealing with the scientific and public outreach aspects of tracking the floating debris following the March 2011 Japan tsunami. Their work produced exciting research results and played an important public service role in providing officials and the public a realistic assessment of the concerns about the debris.
Honolulu, January 5, 2014
University of Hawaii researchers Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner, monitoring the tsunami debris, say objects such as boats, buoys and lighter materials are being replaced with a steady stream of heavier wooden beams and planks. The IPRC website logs reported debris that comes ashore. Since Sept. 24 it has documented nearly two dozen poles, beams, planks and other wooden building materials washing up on diffieren Hawaii beaches. Maximenko is surprised that wood could stay afloat for such a long time, which raises the ecological question how floating trees could carry marine and vegetation to Hawaii. Read more in Star-Advertiser.
Honolulu, December 15, 2013
Jono Blodgett, an aquatic-invasive-species supervisor with Hawaii’s Division of Aquatic Resources, says in the Japan Times that ocean trash arriving in Hawaii is not generally a concern for invasive species. Tsunami debris that has been sitting in Japan’s coastal waters for many years, however, has had time to grow local species. When these species are now transported across the Pacific on the debris, they pose a threat of becoming invasive to Hawaii. In conjunction with this news story, IPRC's Jan Hafner was interviewed about the IPRC tsunami debris model, which creates maps that project where various types of the tsunami debris travel over time. More in the Japan Times.
Honolulu, November 22, 2013
Using the model developed for the 2011 tsunami debris, IPRC’s Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner are projecting paths for debris that might have been generated by super typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. According to the model, any typhoon-generated marine debris is expected to move westward through the Philippine Archipelago into the South China Sea. Unclear is whether from there it would be carried to the coasts of Vietnam or would be diverted by currents and winds to different shores of the South China Sea. Read press release.
Honolulu, November 14, 2013
A different type of possible tsunami debris is starting to wash up on the islands' shorelines: beams from houses or other wooden constructions, such as a 20-foot wooden beam at Malaekahana Beach on Oahu. IPRC’s outreach specialist, Gisela Speidel, said the piece could indicate a new wave of tsunami debris headed our way. Before, oyster buoys or boats arrived, objects that sit high in the water and are more wind-driven. Now it is the more current-driven debris. Click to Watch KITV4 report.
Honolulu, November 7, 2013
Three long poles, perhaps tsunami debris from Japan, have washed up on Oahu windward shores over the past several days. One was found on Kalama Beach, part of Kailua Beach, two others at Malaekahana Bay. According to IPRC’s Senior Scientist Nikolai Maximenko, the arrival of such pieces floating low in the water is consistent with the our IPRC model, which suggests that low-windage tsunami-debris is now arriving. See Star-Advertiser story.
Honolulu, August 30, 2013
Honolulu, February 25, 2013
"The currents in the Northwest Pacific collect debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Winds and storms push the debris out of the patch again, and then the trade winds bring it to Hawaii. Recently the trades have been very strong. This is why we have seen more than the usual amount of debris washing up on Hawaii shores, much of it seems to be from the 2011 Japan tsunami," says IPRC Senior Scientist Nikolai Maximenko. Read more in Star-Advertiser.
Honolulu, February 20, 2013
During today's seminar/webinar, Tomoya Kataoka from the National Institute for Land and Infrastructure Management, Ibaraki, Japan, spoke about web-camera monitoring of quantity and movement of beached marine debris. To view Kataoka's PowerPoint file click here. To view and download the webinar recording, click here. For video-recording of the meeting, click here.
Honolulu, January 11, 2013
Representatives of Japanese government and non-government agencies came to Hawaii to inspect the presence of marine debris from the 2011 Tohoku tsunami on Hawaiian beaches. Led by the Japan Environmental Action Network (JEAN), the group wants to work with Hawaii groups on tsunami debris issues. In partnership with the IPRC and other local organizations, JEAN held a day-long meeting. The Japanese agencies shared their tsunami debris cleanup and monitoring efforts; IPRC’s Nikolai Maximenko spoke about the timelines and pathways of different debris types based on the IPRC Model; International Coastal Cleanup and government groups in Hawaii gave overviews of their activities. More in Meeting Agenda; KITV4 report.
Honolulu, December 4, 2012
Twenty months after the Japan tsunami, little is known about the debris still floating in the North Pacific from the disaster. Fragmentary reports have come and are continuing to come from research vessels, small boats, and from sightings on coastlines, where debris washes ashore without warning. In this situation, numerical models, carefully tuned to use the little data available, continue to provide the main framework for tsunami debris planning and mitigation. Read more.
Honolulu, October 5, 2012
The IPRC Marine Debris Project was notified of possible tsunami debris from Japan washing up on the lava shore below Na`alehu. The giant container like object is metal, yellow, about 12 feet tall and 20 feet wide and could possibly be a pontoon for a floating dock. It was discovered Oct. 3 on state property, within the wash of the waves. Hikers came across the possible tsunami debris along the shore makai of Na`alehu, on the uninhabited Ka`u Coast. Read more.
Honolulu, October 1, 2012
The 5 Gyres Institute and the Algalita Marine Research Institute conducted a sailing expedition that left Japan on June 10, 2012, and sailed through the area where, 15 months after the catastrophe, the IPRC model predicted flotsam from the Japanese tsunami would be concentrated. The debris that was found, for instance parts of a crushed fishing boat and piece of a traditional tatami mat, fits the model's low-windage profile, indicating that much of the debris hasn’t made it across the ocean yet. Read more.
Honolulu, Sept. 30, 2012
HawaiiNewsNow reports that beach goers found an Asahi Beer crate on Bellows Beach. The crate is believed to be from the March 11, 2011, tsunami. The latest version of the IPRC Climate model was shown during the news cast, indicating that debris from the tsunami could be arriving on Hawaii east-facing shores any time now. Read more.
Honolulu, September 21, 2012
When a blue box with the name of a Japanese company destroyed during the March 2011 tsunami was found near Sea Life Park on Oahu, Lisa Kubota of HawaiiNewsNow interviewed Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner. The scientists stated the box could be from the tsunami, as their higher windage version of the IPRC tsunami debris model shows the front edge of the tsunami debris arriving in Hawaii. Read more. Shortly afterwards, fishermen spotted a Japanese dock floating along the east-facing shore of Molokai. Read more.
Honolulu, March 9, 2012
On the first anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake, IPRC’s Senior Scientist Nikolai Maximenko speaks about the current status of the tsunami debris that the earthquake generated. To view high-resolution mp4 video. To view Powerpoint slides. The IPRC gives a "Special Thank You" to Eric Grabowski, Videographer and Editor, and to the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education for creating this production. Permission is granted for non-commercial use with credit to the IPRC.
Honolulu, February 28, 2012
On the upcoming anniversary of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, the Ocean Conservancy hosted a webinar with IPRC’s Nikolai Maximenko and Ruth Yender, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Japan Tsunami Marine Debris Coordinator. They shared the latest findings on the tsunami debris. Following the webinar, Maximenko and Jan Hafner held a press conference in which Maximenko updated the press on the findings presented in the webinar. More in KHNO2, KITV, HawaiiNewsNow, Star-Advertiser. Listen to webinar.
Honolulu, February 22, 2012
At this week’s Ocean Sciences Meeting in Salt Lake City, Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner gave an update of their modeling results on the tsunami debris field. The work and the animation of their model showing how the Japanese tsunami debris field has spread since March 2011 is featured on BBC News. Read more.
The tsunami triggered by the March 11 Earthquake washed out houses, containers, etc. from the land, and ripped offshore items such as fishery vessels, oyster beds, and other fishing gears, etc. loose. Some of these items have sunken, others are still drifting.To read about the actions taken by the Government of Japan go to their Kantei Website.
Honolulu, February 21, 2012
Japanese scientists and governmental representatives met with IPRC’s Tsunami Project Team on February 9 to exchange the latest information about efforts in locating the now widely dispersed tsunami debris. The mission of the task force is to identify the locations of the drifting matter washed into the ocean during the March 11 tsunami by using cutting-edge data assimilation techniques together with the best available ocean, atmosphere, and climate models, and to confirm these locations with satellite imagery and with observational reports. The task force, working under the umbrella of Japanese governmental organizations, is looking into cooperating with other governments on this project, in particular, with the United States. Read more.
Honolulu, February 16, 2012
With the lack of satisfactory observations, some reports in the media have greatly exaggerated the amount and type of debris from the March 11, 2011, tsunami floating toward the North American West Coast. We will try to clear up a few misunderstandings and misperceptions. Read more.
Honolulu, February 13, 2012
A Japan-U.S. joint project is under way across the Pacific to monitor the paths of debris swept into the sea in the aftermath of the huge tsunami that followed on the heels of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake. In September last year, Prof. Shigeru Fujieda of Kagoshima University's Faculty of Fisheries asked domestic fisheries high schools to cooperate in gathering data on tsunami debris after receiving a request from Nikolai Maximenko, a senior researcher of the International Pacific Research Center at the University of Hawaii. Read more in the Daily Yomiuri.
Honolulu, January 25, 2012
The March 11, 2011, earthquake northeast of Japan and the impact of subsequent tsunami wave on the Tohoku coastline produced millions of tons of debris. A large amount of the debris was released into the ocean. Under the influence of winds and currents, floating debris is dispersing over a large area and drifting eastward; it is predicted to reach Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States within the coming two years. In order to obtain some certainty about the model predictions, an expedition was made to survey the ocean northwest of Midway during December. Read more about the survey.
January 18, 2012
Nikolai Maximenko was interviewed by KITV 4 regarding findings by residents on Molokai, who thought they had spotted tsunami debris. Maximenko took this opportunity to review the various sightings of actual debris from the tsunami and to describe the recent expedition in search of such debris northwest of Midway. Listen and read more.
December 15, 2011
Carried by ocean currents and winds, tsunami debris is expected to drift across the North Pacific from Japan toward the Northwest Coast of North America. The speed with which it drifts depends on its shape and composition. If the item is light and sticks out of water, it will drift much faster across the Pacific. The drum that washed on the shores of the Olympic Peninsula is such a light object; the part that sticks out of the water acts like a sail, and the wind can push it much more quickly than heavier objects. Researchers on the West Coast are now in the same position that our team has been for a while: verifying that the debris that has been found is indeed tsunami debris. Read more by Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner. Read story in news.
Workshop on November 14, 2011
The March 11, 2011, tsunami in Japan swept tons of debris into the ocean. Visible during the first weeks as yellow mats of complex composition, the debris quickly drifted offshore, dispersed and became invisible to existing observing systems. Predictions of ocean models have been confirmed by recent direct observations, which showed the edge of the debris field at the end of September only 300 miles northwest from Midway. The workshop focused on the necessity and feasibility of mitigating the impact of the debris on coastlines by using available knowledge, technologies, and resources. For the program and to see the presentations (mostly PDFs) click here; For the Audio-Video Webex recording click here. Picked up in the news by The Mainichi Daily News.
November 3, 2011
Nikolai Maximenko was interviewed by Dan Cooke, the weather and news anchor for Hawaii News Now, about his computer-model-based prediction of where the debris from the tsunami is headed. As this debris may greatly impact Hawaii,Cooke has begun a series called "Tsunami Trash Adrift to Hawaii," which will “continue to monitor the tsunami trash as it approaches our islands, and let you know about plans to tackle the problem as they develop.” Listen to the news cast.
(IPRC press release)
October 14, 2011
On September 22 during its homeward voyage from Honolulu to Vladivostok, the Russian Sail Training Ship Pallada encountered debris from the great Japan tsunami, including a small boat with the Fukujima prefecture marking. It was found at the outer edge of the debris field of the computer model of ocean currents developed by IPRC’s Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner. As the Pallada continued on, more debris was seen, validating the model. Read press release.
September 16, 2011
In the wake of Nikolai Maximenko’s and Jan Hafner’s meeting with Captain Sviridenko of the Russian Tall Ship STS Pallada to be on the look-out for any debris from Japan's tsunami, Hafner was interviewed by KITV4 about any knowledge of the whereabouts of the debris. To help in efforts to track the debris, the scientists need to validate their models' projections of the debris field and are asking ships in the North Pacific to report to them on what they see, and if possible take samples.
April 7, 2011
The huge tsunami triggered by the 9.0 Tohoku Earthquake destroyed coastal towns near Sendai in Japan, washing such things as houses and cars into the ocean. Based on a model derived from past trajectories of drifting buoys, projections of where this debris might head over the next 5 to 6 years have been made by Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa. More at CNN, Hawaii News Now, Star-Advertiser, and Asahi Shimbun. For animation click image.
March 18, 2011
The waves triggered by the 9.0 Tohoku earthquake destroyed several coastal towns around Sendai, Japan, and carried all sorts of debris, including cars and whole houses, into the ocean. IPRC's Nikolai Maximenko, who has been studying and modeling ocean currents and where currents transport floating materials, was interviewed about the path that the debris from the tsunami might take and when it might hit Hawaii’s shores. More on KITV News.