Friday, November 30, 2012

Where is the Fukushima Radiation Impact News?

DATA DRIVEN VIEWPOINT: Sometimes the big news stories can only be seen by the shadows that they cast.  You would think that it would be easy to find copious updates on the radiation impact Fukushima is having on the fishing industry, US food production, global radiation distribution, etc. You would be mistaken. The relatively large amount of media coverage the Fukushima disaster initially generated has diminished to the point of near silence.  Maybe my own internet search skills are to blame, but even having to run a search on Fukushima's radioactive legacy for North America is an warning sign to which journalists and the media should be paying attention. There was this month (November, 2012) a scientific study published regarding the release of radiation from Japan, but its focus is primarily on how tracing  the travel of radionuclides gives insight into atmospheric air circulation in the Northern Hemisphere. 

I would be interested in learning more about what the US and Canadian governments are doing to monitor radiation levels, track distribution rates and study how it may or may not be impacting our food supply. If any of you reading this comes across such information, please post links here to the comments section below.  If you search but can't find information, that is news worth also, so please comment about your efforts also.  Thank you.

Brian T. Lynch

Volume 438, 1 November 2012, Pages 80–85

Tracking the complete revolution of surface westerlies over Northern Hemisphere using radionuclides emitted from Fukushima

  • a Department of Applied Physics, University of Huelva, Huelva, Spain
  • b Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute, Ansan 426–744, South Korea
  • c Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute, Uljin 767–813, South Korea
  • d Department of Environmental Marine Science, Hanyang University, Ansan, 426–791, South Korea
  • e Department of Geology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA
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Massive amounts of anthropogenic radionuclides were released from the nuclear reactors located in Fukushima (northeastern Japan) between 12 and 16 March 2011 following the earthquake and tsunami. Ground level air radioactivity was monitored around the globe immediately after the Fukushima accident. This global effort provided a unique opportunity to trace the surface air mass movement at different sites in the Northern Hemisphere. Based on surface air radioactivity measurements around the globe and the air mass backward trajectory analysis of the Fukushima radioactive plume at various places in the Northern Hemisphere by employing the Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory model, we show for the first time, that the uninterrupted complete revolution of the mid-latitude Surface Westerlies took place in less than 21 days, with an average zonal velocity of > 60 km/h. The position and circulation time scale of Surface Westerlies are of wide interest to a large number of global researchers including meteorologists, atmospheric researchers and global climate modellers.


► Evidence of the South Korea contamination with released radiocesium from Fukushima. ► Field samples and air mass analysis were utilized to elucidate the transport of those radionuclides. ► Characterization of the air mass movements at different sites at the Earth's surface. ► Verification of the uninterrupted complete revolution of the artificial radionuclides released in Fukushima. ► Quantification of the velocity of the artificial radionuclides released in Fukushima.


  • Fukushima; 
  • 134Cs; 
  • Atmosphere; 
  • Air masses; 
  • Westerlies; 
  • Northern Hemisphere

Figures and tables from this article:
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Fig. 1. (a) First arrival date of Fukushima radioactive substances at various sites in the northern Hemisphere. (b) Atmospheric aerosol concentration of 134Cs and 137Cs in Chuncheon, South Korea (data from Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety website). The aerosol was collected at 09:00 am every morning for the next 24 hours on to a glass fiber filter using a high volume sampler (Kim et al., 2011). (c) 134Cs and 137Cs activity concentration in dust falling on the ground during March to June 2011 in Uljin, Korea. Error bars arise from 1- sigma counting statistics.
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Fig. 2. a) Hourly backward trajectories at 1000 m (computed with GDAS files) and b) at 200 m (computed with ECMWF files) and c) the corresponding clusters at 1000 m during 11th March-5th April over Uljin (South Korea). In the clusters figure, the left number is the identification number of the centroid and the percentage indicates the number of hourly backward trajectories occurring in that cluster.
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Fig. 3. The two main air mass branches (centroids) from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant from 12th to 16th March. Each centroid has a temporal coverage of 192 hours (8 days) and initial height of 1000 m. The number is the identification number of the centroid and the percentage indicates the number of hourly backward trajectories occurring in that cluster. 1 and 2 in the figure stands for the south and north branches of the Fukushima radioactive plume.
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Fig. 4. a) Synoptic chart and 192 hours forward trajectory from Fukushima nuclear plant on 16th March 2011 and b) synoptic charts on 22nd and 26th March 2011. H means high- pressure area and L means low pressure area.
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Fig. 5. The centroids of the 8 days backward trajectory analysis at different sites around the world indicating the transport of the Fukushima plume and the centroid of the 19 days forward trajectories from Fukushima from 12th to 16th of March. The number 1 is the identification number of the centroid and the percentage (100 %) indicates the number of hourly backward trajectories occurring in that cluster.

Corresponding author contact information
Corresponding author at: University of Huelva, Campus de El Carmen, 21071, Huelva, Spain. Tel.: + 34 959219793; fax: + 34 959219777.

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