Model simulations on the long-term dispersal of 137Cs released into the Pacific Ocean off Fukushima.

Behrens, Erik, Schwarzkopf, Franziska U., Lübbecke, Joke F. and Böning, Claus W. (2012) Model simulations on the long-term dispersal of 137Cs released into the Pacific Ocean off Fukushima. Open Access Environmental Research Letters, 7 (3). 034004. DOI 10.1088/1748-9326/7/3/034004.

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Abstract

A sequence of global ocean circulation models, with horizontal mesh sizes of 0.5°, 0.25° and 0.1°, are used to estimate the long-term dispersion by ocean currents and mesoscale eddies of a slowly decaying tracer (half-life of 30 years, comparable to that of 137Cs) from the local waters off the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plants. The tracer was continuously injected into the coastal waters over some weeks; its subsequent spreading and dilution in the Pacific Ocean was then simulated for 10 years. The simulations do not include any data assimilation, and thus, do not account for the actual state of the local ocean currents during the release of highly contaminated water from the damaged plants in March–April 2011. An ensemble differing in initial current distributions illustrates their importance for the tracer patterns evolving during the first months, but suggests a minor relevance for the large-scale tracer distributions after 2–3 years. By then the tracer cloud has penetrated to depths of more than 400 m, spanning the western and central North Pacific between 25°N and 55°N, leading to a rapid dilution of concentrations. The rate of dilution declines in the following years, while the main tracer patch propagates eastward across the Pacific Ocean, reaching the coastal waters of North America after about 5–6 years. Tentatively assuming a value of 10 PBq for the net 137Cs input during the first weeks after the Fukushima incident, the simulation suggests a rapid dilution of peak radioactivity values to about 10 Bq m−3 during the first two years, followed by a gradual decline to 1–2 Bq m−3 over the next 4–7 years. The total peak radioactivity levels would then still be about twice the pre-Fukushima values.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: WOS:000309555300005
Keywords: Oceanography; Fukushima; nuclear incident; radioactivity; 137Cs release; tracer dispersion; ocean circulation; North Pacific Ocean; Kuroshio; NUCLEAR-POWER-PLANT; BLACK-SEA; DAI-ICHI; RADIONUCLIDES; RADIOTRACERS; CLIMATOLOGY; CIRCULATION; ATMOSPHERE; DEPOSITION; JAPAN
Research affiliation: OceanRep > SFB 754 > A2
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-TM Theory and Modeling
OceanRep > SFB 754
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1088/1748-9326/7/3/034004
ISSN: 1748-9326
Projects: SFB754, Future Ocean
Expeditions/Models/Experiments:
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2012 07:48
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2018 13:13
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/14788

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