Tsunami and Marine Debris Press Releases

What has happened to the 2011 tsunami debris?
Outcomes from synthesis of model simulations and observations

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. Read more in press release.

Castaway fisherman’s journey matches currents and winds

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...

Where will debris from Super Typhoon Haiyan go in the Ocean?

Honolulu, November 22, 2013
Using the model developed for the 2011 tsunami debris, IPRC’s Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner are projecting paths for the 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 more in UH News.

Tsunami Debris Survey Launched Northwest of Midway

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.

Larger photos available by clicking on thumbnails. Please credit Tsunami Debris Project.Photos can be used for educational purposes only.

Russian Ship Finds Tsunami Debris where Scientists Predicted

October 13, 2011
Ever since the Japan tsunami on March 11 washed millions of tons of debris into the Pacific, IPRC’s Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner have been trying to track the trajectory of this debris that can threaten small ships and coastlines. Until now they had only their state-of-the-art – but still untested – computer model of currents to speculate where the debris might end up. Warned by maps of the scientists’ model, the Russian sail training ship, the STS Pallada, found an array of unmistakable tsunami debris on its homeward voyage from Honolulu to Vladivostok. Read release.

Larger copies of photos by clicking on thumbnails. Please credit STS Pallada/Natalia Borodina. Photos can be used for educational purposes only.


Russian Tall Ship to Search for Missing Tsunami Debris

September 13, 2011
Virtually nothing is known of the whereabouts of the tons of debris that were washed into the ocean by Japan’s March 11 tsunami. Nikolai Maximenko, who made model projections of the tsunami debris path, has now engaged the Russian 3-master STS Pallada, its Captain Vasily Sviridenko and young cadets to look out for the debris and report what they see on their homeward journey from Honolulu to Vladivostok. Read release.

Photo 1: courtesy STS Pallada; photo 2: courtesy Beatrix Hu; photo 3: courtesy Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner, International Pacific Research Center.

Where Will the Debris from Japan's Tsunami Drift in the Ocean?

April 6, 2011
The huge tsunami triggered by the 9.0 Tohoku Earthquake destroyed coastal towns near Sendaiin 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. Read release.

Photo 1: courtesy Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner, International Pacific Research Center; Photos 2 and 3: courtesy US Navy.

UH Scientist Predicts Plastic Garbage Patch in Atlantic Ocean

August 19, 2010
Where does the plastic garbage in the ocean go? Twenty-two-years worth of data collected by undergraduate students aboard a sailing vessel has identified widespread floating plastic debris in the western North Atlantic that is comparable to the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch.’ The study, led by a team of researchers from Sea Education Association (SEA), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM), is published this week in Science. Read release.

Image, courtesy Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner,
International Pacific Research Center.


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