Archive for the ‘– oceans’ Category

The vanishing Arctic ice

May 18, 2017

The hard truth, however, is that the Arctic as it is known today is almost certainly gone. Efforts to mitigate global warming by cutting emissions remain essential. But the state of the Arctic shows that humans cannot simply undo climate change. They will have to adapt to it

The Arctic as it is known today is almost certainly gone On current trends, the Arctic will be ice-free in summer by 2040 http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21721379-current-trends-arctic-will-be-ice-free-summer-2040-arctic-it-known-today?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/ed/climatechangethearcticasitisknowntodayisalmostcertainlygone Apr 29th 2017

THOSE who doubt the power of human beings to change Earth’s climate should look to the Arctic, and shiver. There is no need to pore over records of temperatures and atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations. The process is starkly visible in the shrinkage of the ice that covers the Arctic ocean. In the past 30 years, the minimum coverage of summer ice has fallen by half; its volume has fallen by three-quarters. On current trends, the Arctic ocean will be largely ice-free in summer by 2040.

Climate-change sceptics will shrug. Some may even celebrate: an ice-free Arctic ocean promises a shortcut for shipping between the Pacific coast of Asia and the Atlantic coasts of Europe and the Americas, and the possibility of prospecting for perhaps a fifth of the planet’s undiscovered supplies of oil and natural gas. Such reactions are profoundly misguided. Never mind that the low price of oil and gas means searching for them in the Arctic is no longer worthwhile. Or that the much-vaunted sea passages are likely to carry only a trickle of trade. The right response is fear. The Arctic is not merely a bellwether of matters climatic, but an actor in them (see Briefing).

The current period of global warming that Earth is undergoing is caused by certain gases in the atmosphere, notably carbon dioxide. These admit heat, in the form of sunlight, but block its radiation back into space, in the form of longer-wavelength infra-red. That traps heat in the air, the water and the land. More carbon dioxide equals more warming—a simple equation. Except it is not simple. A number of feedback loops complicate matters. Some dampen warming down; some speed it up. Two in the Arctic may speed it up quite a lot.

One is that seawater is much darker than ice. It absorbs heat rather than reflecting it back into space. That melts more ice, which leaves more seawater exposed, which melts more ice. And so on. This helps explain why the Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet. The deal on climate change made in Paris in 2015 is meant to stop Earth’s surface temperature rising by more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. In the unlikely event that it is fully implemented, winter temperatures over the Arctic ocean will still warm by between 5° and 9°C compared with their 1986-2005 average.

The second feedback loop concerns not the water but the land. In the Arctic much of this is permafrost. That frozen soil locks up a lot of organic material. If the permafrost melts its organic contents can escape as a result of fire or decay, in the form of carbon dioxide or methane (which is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2). This will speed up global warming directly—and the soot from the fires, when it settles on the ice, will darken it and thus speed its melting still more.

Dead habitat walking

 A warming Arctic could have malevolent effects. The world’s winds are driven in large part by the temperature difference between the poles and the tropics. If the Arctic heats faster than the tropics, this difference will decrease and wind speeds will slow—as they have done, in the northern hemisphere, by between 5 and 15% in the past 30 years. Less wind might sound desirable. It is not. One consequence is erratic behaviour of the northern jet stream, a circumpolar current, the oscillations of which sometimes bring cold air south and warm air north. More exaggerated oscillations would spell blizzards and heatwaves in unexpected places at unexpected times.

Ocean currents, too, may slow. The melting of Arctic ice dilutes salt water moving north from the tropics. That makes it less dense, and thus less inclined to sink for the return journey in the ocean depths. This slowing of circulation will tug at currents around the world, with effects on everything from the Indian monsoon to the pattern of El Niño in the Pacific ocean.

The scariest possibility of all is that something happens to the ice cap covering Greenland. This contains about 10% of the world’s fresh water. If bits of it melted, or just broke free to float in the water, sea levels could rise by a lot more than today’s projection of 74cm by the end of the century. At the moment, the risk of this happening is hard to assess because data are difficult to gather. But loss of ice from Greenland is accelerating.

What to do about all this is a different question. Even if the Paris agreement is stuck to scrupulously, the amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere, together with that which will be added, looks bound eventually to make summer Arctic sea ice a thing of the past. Some talk of geoengineering—for example, spraying sulphates into the polar air to reflect sunlight back into space, or using salt to seed the creation of sunlight-blocking clouds. Such ideas would have unknown side-effects, but they are worth testing in pilot studies.

The hard truth, however, is that the Arctic as it is known today is almost certainly gone. Efforts to mitigate global warming by cutting emissions remain essential. But the state of the Arctic shows that humans cannot simply undo climate change. They will have to adapt to it.

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Arctic warm water is now being pushed to the surface

May 18, 2017
Climate change is literally turning the Arctic ocean inside out, WP,  April 6 There’s something special — and very counterintuitive — about the Arctic Ocean.

Unlike in the Atlantic or Pacific, where the water gets colder as it gets deeper, the Arctic is upside-down. The water gets warmer as it gets deeper. The reason is that warm, salty Atlantic-originating water that flows into the Arctic from the south is more dense, and so it nestles beneath a colder, fresher surface layer that is often capped by floating sea ice. This state of “stratification” makes the Arctic Ocean unique, and it means that waters don’t simply grow colder as you travel farther north — they also become inverted.

But in a paper in Science released Thursday, a team of Arctic scientists say this fundamental trait is now changing across a major part of the Arctic, in conjunction with a changing climate.

“I first went to the Arctic in about 1969, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Eddy Carmack, a researcher with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and one of the study’s authors. “Back then we just assumed the Arctic is as it is and it will be that way forevermore. So what we’re seeing in the last decade or so is quite remarkable.”

In a large area that they term the eastern Eurasian basin — north of the Laptev and East Siberian seas, which in turn are north of Siberia — the researchers found that warm Atlantic water is increasingly pushing to the surface and melting floating sea ice. This mixing, they say, has not only contributed to thinner ice and more areas of open water that used to be ice covered, but it also is changing the state of Arctic waters in a process the study terms “Atlantification” — and these characteristics could soon spread across more of the Arctic ocean, changing it fundamentally.

The study was led by Igor Polyakov of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, in collaboration with a team of 15 researchers from the United States, Canada, Russia, Poland, Germany and Norway.

To understand the work, it’s important to first note the extensive and rapid shrinkage of Arctic sea ice of late in an area to the north of Siberia. The area, known as the eastern Eurasian basin, is seeing thinner ice and more months of open water. Arctic sea ice is a linchpin of the Earth’s climate system………https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/04/06/scientists-say-the-unique-arctic-ocean-is-being-transformed-before-our-eyes/?utm_campaign=crowdfire&utm_content=crowdfire&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_term=.40ec22cba221#350509998-tw#1491570060364

Ocean acidification spreading rapidly in Arctic Ocean,

March 9, 2017

International team reports ocean acidification spreading rapidly in Arctic Ocean, EurekAlert, 28 Feb 17, UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE  Ocean acidification (OA) is spreading rapidly in the western Arctic Ocean in both area and depth, according to new interdisciplinary research reported in Nature Climate Changeby a team of international collaborators, including University of Delaware professor Wei-Jun Cai.

The research shows that, between the 1990s and 2010, acidified waters expanded northward approximately 300 nautical miles from the Chukchi slope off the coast of northwestern Alaska to just below the North Pole. Also, the depth of acidified waters was found to have increased, from approximately 325 feet to over 800 feet (or from 100 to 250 meters).

“The Arctic Ocean is the first ocean where we see such a rapid and large-scale increase in acidification, at least twice as fast as that observed in the Pacific or Atlantic oceans,” said Cai, the U.S. lead principal investigator on the project and Mary A.S. Lighthipe Professor of Earth, Ocean, and Environment at UD.

“The rapid spread of ocean acidification in the western Arctic has implications for marine life, particularly clams, mussels and tiny sea snails that may have difficulty building or maintaining their shells in increasingly acidified waters,” said Richard Feely, NOAA senior scientist and a co-author of the research. Sea snails called pteropods are part of the Arctic food web and important to the diet of salmon and herring. Their decline could affect the larger marine ecosystem.

Among the Arctic species potentially at risk from ocean acidification are subsistence fisheries of shrimp and varieties of salmon and crab.

Other collaborators on the international project include Liqi Chen, the Chinese lead principal investigator and scientist with the Third Institute of Oceanography of State Oceanic Administration of China; and scientists at Xiamen University, China and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, among other institutions…….

Arctic ocean ice melt in the summer, once found only in shallow waters of depths less than 650 feet or 200 meters, now spreads further into the Arctic Ocean.

“It’s like a melting pond floating on the Arctic Ocean. It’s a thin water mass that exchanges carbon dioxide rapidly with the atmosphere above, causing carbon dioxide and acidity to increase in the meltwater on top of the seawater,” said Cai. “When the ice forms in winter, acidified waters below the ice become dense and sink down into the water column, spreading into deeper waters.”https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/uod-itr022717.php

Possibility of drastic cooling in North Atlantic

March 9, 2017

Drastic cooling in North Atlantic beyond worst fears, scientists warn https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/24/drastic-cooling-north-atlantic-beyond-worst-fears-scientists-warn

Climatologists say Labrador Sea could cool within a decade before end of this century, leading to unprecedented disruption, reports Climate News Network, Guardian,  , 25 Feb 17, For thousands of years, parts of northwest Europe have enjoyed a climate about 5C warmer than many other regions on the same latitude. But new scientific analysis suggests that that could change much sooner and much faster than thought possible.

Climatologists who have looked again at the possibility of major climate change in and around the Atlantic Ocean, a persistent puzzle to researchers, now say there is an almost 50% chance that a key area of the North Atlantic could cool suddenly and rapidly, within the space of a decade, before the end of this century.

That is a much starker prospect than even the worst-case scientific scenario proposed so far, which does not see the Atlantic ocean current shutdown happening for several hundred years at least.

A scenario even more drastic (but fortunately fictional) was the subject of the 2004 US movie The Day After Tomorrow, which portrayed the disruption of the North Atlantic’s circulation leading to global cooling and a new Ice Age.

To evaluate the risk of extreme climate change, researchers from the Environnements et Paléoenvironnements Océaniques et Continentaux laboratory (CNRS/University of Bordeaux, France), and the University of Southamptondeveloped an algorithm to analyse the 40 climate models considered by the Fifth Assessment Report.

The findings by the British and French team, published in the Nature Communications journal, in sharp contrast to the IPCC, put the probability of rapid North Atlantic cooling during this century at almost an even chance – nearly 50%.

Current climate models foresee a slowing of the meridional overturning circulation (MOC), sometimes known also as the thermohaline circulation, which is the phenomenon behind the more familiar Gulf Stream that carries warmth from Florida to European shores. If it did slow, that could lead to a dramatic, unprecedented disruption of the climate system.

In 2013, drawing on 40 climate change projections, the IPCC judged that this slowdown would occur gradually, over a long period. Its findings suggested that fast cooling of the North Atlantic during this century was unlikely.

But oceanographers from EU emBRACE had also re-examined the 40 projections by focusing on a critical spot in the northwest of the North Atlantic: the Labrador Sea.

The Labrador Sea is host to a convection system ultimately feeding into the ocean-wide MOC. The temperatures of its surface waters plummet in the winter, increasing their density and causing them to sink. This displaces deep waters, which bring their heat with them as they rise to the surface, preventing the formation of ice caps.

The algorithm developed by the Anglo-French researchers was able to detect quick sea surface temperature variations. With it they found that seven of the 40 climate models they were studying predicted a total shutdown of convection, leading to abrupt cooling of the Labrador Sea by 2C to 3C over less than 10 years. This in turn would drastically lower North Atlantic coastal temperatures.

But because only a handful of the models supported this projection, the researchers focused on the critical parameter triggering winter convection: ocean stratification. Five of the models that included stratification predicted a rapid drop in North Atlantic temperatures.

The researchers say these projections can one day be tested against real data from the international OSnap project, whose teams will be anchoring scientific instruments within the sub-polar gyre (a gyre is any large system of circulating ocean currents).

If the predictions are borne out and the North Atlantic waters do cool rapidly over the coming years, the team says, with considerable understatement, climate change adaptation policies for regions bordering the North Atlantic will have to take account of this phenomenon.

NASA project – Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) studies future sea level rise

March 9, 2017

OMG measurements of Greenland give us a glimpse of future sea rise https://www.skepticalscience.com/omg-greenland-sea-level-rise.html 24 February 2017 by John Abraham  If you meet a group of climate scientists, and ask them how much sea levels will rise by say the year 2100, you will get a wide range of answers. But, those with most expertise in sea level rise will tell you perhaps 1 meter (a little over three feet). Then, they will immediately say, “but there is a lot of uncertainty on this estimate.” It doesn’t mean they aren’t certain there will be sea level rise – that is guaranteed as we add more heat in the oceans. Here, uncertainty means it could be a lot more or a little less.

Why are scientists not certain about how much the sea level will rise? Because there are processes that are occurring that have the potential for causing huge sea level rise, but we’re uncertain about how fast they will occur. Specifically, two very large sheets of ice sit atop Greenland and Antarctica. If those sheets melt, sea levels will rise hundreds of feet.

Parts of the ice sheets are melting, but how much will melt and how fast will the melting occur? Are we talking decades? Centuries? Millennia? Scientists really want to know the answer to this question. Not only is it interesting scientifically, but it has huge impacts on coastal planning.

One reason the answer to this question is illusive is that melting of ice sheets can occur from above (warm air and sunlight) or from below (warm ocean waters). In many instances, it’s the melting from below that is most significant – but this melting from below is really hard to measure.

With hope we will have a much clearer sense of ice sheet melting and sea level rise because of a new scientific endeavor that is part of a NASA project – Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG). This project has brought together some of the best oceanographers and ice experts in the world. The preliminary results are encouraging and are discussed in two recent publications here and here.

In the papers, the authors note that Greenland ice loss has increased substantially in recent decades. It now contributes approximately 1/3 to total sea level rise. The authors want to know whether this contribution will change over time and they recognize that underwater processes may be the most important to study. In fact, they note in their paper:

Specifically, our goal is improved understanding of how ocean hydrographic variability around the ice sheet impacts glacial melt rates, thinning and retreat.

In plain English, they want to know how water flow around Greenland affects the ice melt.

Their experiments are measuring a number of key attributes. First, yearly changes in the temperature of ocean water near Greenland. Second, the yearly changes to the glaciers on Greenland that extend into the ocean waters. Third, they are observing marine topography (the shape of the land underneath the ocean surface).

The sea floor shape is quite complicated, particularly near Greenland. Past glaciers carved deep troughs in the sea floor in some areas, allowing warm salty water to reach huge glaciers that are draining the ice sheet. As lead OMG investigator Josh Willis said:

What’s interesting about the waters around Greenland is that they are upside down. Warm, salty water, which is heavy, sits below a layer of cold, fresh water from the Arctic Ocean. That means the warm water is down deep, and glaciers sitting in deep water could be in trouble.

As the warm water attacks marine glaciers (glaciers that extend into the ocean), the ice tends to break and calve, retreating toward land. In some cases, the glaciers retreat until their grounding line coincides with the shore. But in other cases the undulating surface allows warm water to wear the glacier underside for long distances and thereby increase the risk of large calving events.

Oftentimes, when glaciers near the coast break off they uncork other ice that can then more easily flow into the oceans.

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Radiation effects of Chernobyl and Fuykuhsima nuclear disasters

March 20, 2016

Comparing Fukushima and Chernobyl concerning radionuclide distribution and Isotopic variations on Land and effects on the environment. New studies by Timothy Mousseu and his team.

Tim was interviewed and he gave us an overall look at the situation and compares the 2 nuclear disasters for us. Link to Timothy Mousseau cricket.biol.sc.edu/Mousseau/Mousseau.html

Strontium and Plutonium isotopes

“Most of the those other isotopes in are very small quantities relative to the cesium that were released – that were very different to the Chernobyl situation where huge quantities of Strontium, about equal Cesium and Strontium were released along with several isotopes of of Plutonium, The Plutonium is in the process of decaying into Americium and (that) is more radioactive than Plutonium apparent”

Strontium in Fukushima Prefecture
In Japan the the Strontium was not volatised as did Cesium and Iodine and it did not travel far (on Land) but large quantities of Strontium are still being released by the ground water at the plant and and from the cooling water leaking into the ocean.

Contamination of the Nursery areas in the deep ocean and off the coast of Japan?
On the 4th February 2016 a Press conference was held in the Foriegn Correspondents Club in Japan calling for more research funding to be done concerning the Human health effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and we find a similar problem faced by epidemiologists and researchers to the lack of interest and therefore funding in this area. During the interview with Timothy we touched on research funding issues in a variety of areas relevant to the nuclear disaster including the aquatic environment.
Timothy responded to a question put to him saying that only some studies have been done (to his knowledge) on the bottom feeding fish and that these fish had been found to high contamination but that very other few studies have been done. He went on to say;
“surveillance work to determine wether fish can be consumed rather than the biological impacts (and) ecological impacts of the fish themselves, this is one of the important questions and that is one of the interests we have as a group.”
He went on to say that the issues for thre authorities are that;

“Whether or not —“  The fish are below regulatory limits for export, that is the main – you know- economic driver of interest but the biological drive is almost nil as far as I can tell”

Terrestrial (land) contamination issues on wildllife, plant and micro–organisms
Of the limited research happening in this area, Tims and his team is at the forefront in developing novel and creative ways to ascertain the effects from the nuclear disaster. Usng their experience gleaned from the radiological effected areas of Chernobyl (with the help of Anders Pape Møller, CNRS, University of Paris-Sud) and applying this invaluable eperience on the highly effected areas on the mountain sides and hills sorrounding the Fukushima city to the coastal areas including Namie and IItate areas of Fukushima and some less contaminated areas for comparison studies.
These studies have resulted in some 8 to 9 primary papers on birds and Insects. Also, new research on Rodents is about to be released and cameras have been set up in various locations studying large mamals such as pigs and monkeys.

Oze National Park in southern Fukushima Prefecture and Northern Chiba Prefecture (north of Tokyo)
On the search for clean areas for comparison studies, Tim said that he was disapointed. He looked at the huge and remote Oze national Park as a possible localtion (largly situated in the Chiba Prefecture but his radiation readings were more than 10 times normal at 0.5 mcSv/h (compared to the contaminated research area with 30 – 40 and 50 mcSv/h in the hills sorrounding Fukushima City.
we talked about the effects of sediment transfer from the mountains down through the lakes and forests of Oze Park. Tim then mentioned a Typhoon he witnessed that stripped large areas of soil into the rivers and was concerned of the effects in the extensive lake system in Oze Park and the result of contamination making its way to the river outflows on the coast and effects on the fisheries. Asked as to wether any studies were being done he said that in the last year (some 5 years after the nuclear accident) many geollogists from around the world were vying for funding to commence studies in “the next year or two” studying such issues but presently;

“I don`t know of any studies being done” he said

The issue of funding was mentioned here and that the Japanese government seemed only interested in funding studies for issues around food and health issues (link to issues around health studies being grossly limited here
(courtesy of FFCJ www.youtube.com/watch?v=e58yF8zZQ9w )
Only a handful of scientists can afford to do these studies he went on to say. And I mentioned that TEPCO owned the larger share of this PNational Park. (Some findings concerning the issues and info on Oze National Park herewww.opednews.com/articles/Does-Tepco-ow… )

Discussing the pros and cons of the peer review process
He said that it is always a consttant battle

“.. and I suppose its a really positive aspect of the peer review process”

On the pitfalls of the process he mentioned that for some decades finding sufficiently knowledgeable and open minded reviewers to consider “creative studies” is difficult. He went onto say that he and dis colleagues have managed to submit and have accepted some 80 papers in the last ten years concerning Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Funding issues for research and analysis
Here we discussed Ken Buesslers citizen crowd funding campaign for testing water off the west coast USA.
Tim noted that his costs come to some hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and that Kens study was very limited due to the cost of transportation of samples and costs for sampling etc. Kens was limited by the lack of funding raised concerning this campaign and pointed out that the costs are not fully covered by the monies raised.
“its a limited effort and doesnt in any way provide the level of info to address the bigger question but, that said, he has done a fabulous job with what he has got to do it”
I hen asked Tim if such a scheme might be implimented in Japan, he said
“You dont want the middle schoolers collecting radioactive dirt do you?”
Also, getting permission to work in these contaminated areas is difficult and omly open to professional research activities.

The new Japanese Secrets Law brought in at the end of 2013
On this he said that (aside form legal issues) there is “alot of self censorship in Japan to do with this disaster”
But he said that locals in Fukshima Prefecture have been incredibly helpful giving food, finacial support and property for laboratory analysis.
“There is an incidious form of censorship going on that most people are not tuned intoit and thats the fact that if you dont fund science – the resouces for research – it doesnt get done and (by) consequesnce questions are not asked and certainly not answered”
Lack of funding is the biggest form of censorship with this disaster.
He went on to say that on funding issues;

“I haven`t had a much luck with som of the conventional (funding) sources”

Chernobyl, new mice study
Last week Tim said he produced a study showing hightened prevelance of cataracts in the eyes of mice.
and that this was corroborated with an earlier study on birds.

Finding clues and evidence on previous relevant biosphere studies to date
A meta analysis is being done on previous studies looking into plant, animals and bacteria are adpting or evolving, on some level or other. Looking at all the evidence (including the issue of high U.V. radiation found on earth millions of years ago). His conclusions seem to point to the facts that the evolutionary response was “actually negative” and this report should be out in about a month. His earlier study on birds with Black pigment showed that some resiliance in a small amount of bird species was due to them using antioxidents to protect from gentic damage but that some cost. This might limit the lower antioxident levels left in these birds might cause problems for them to find mates and deal with environmental changes (such as climate change)
“Organisms can use these antioxidents to the mutational load OR use it to advertise to a mate or defend itself against some other diseases but there is this ultimate trade off that limits the success in one way or another”
Thermal regulation might be another factor due to this imbalance he said.

Chernobyl Heart – Fukushima heart?
We discussed pin holes found in babies even today in the contaminated areas of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. Tim said that it is recognised that there are well documented cardio vascular damage in the areas of contamination and that he would check out this problem in the near future using samples he has collected already. (A previous article I have looked at some statistics and posits on this www.opednews.com/articles/The-manipulat…)

Issues on the decontamination and Top soil removal
We also discussed the issues of the damage to the environment by removing the living soil around houses and roads to reduce the geiger readings (dose). Tim also said that only limited top soil is removed and

“.. a superficial attempt to provide this appearencce of reduced contamination but it is not a solution to the area”

He went onto point out that the leaves and branches that fall will eventually cover these areas that are cleaned and a radioactive build up will re occour over time. He is running similar test into the issue found in Chernobyl with micro organisms not survivng and causing forest debris to build up (and causing wildfires etc). He is not sure if the levels and isotopic types found in Fukushima are going to cause the same problem that was found in Chernobyl but that he would know when an experiment he is running is concluded in the next few months or so.

Government and IAEA ignore risks of Fukushima radiation to coastal communitis

October 19, 2015

UK research clearly shows that coastal zone populations are exposed to doses of marine radioactivity under the following set of environmental parameters:

  1. resident in coastal zones up to at least 200kms downstream of a source of liquid radioactive discharges to sea
  2. resident in coastal zones adjacent to coastal waters with high suspended sediment loadings
  3. resident in coastal zones adjacent to extensive fine sediment inter tidal/sub tidal sediment deposits (salt marsh, mud flats etc)
  4. resident in coastal zones subject to prevailing onshore winds and storm or tidal conditions generating marine aerosols, sea spray and coastal inundation
  5. resident in coastal zones where such parameters (A to D above) have, elsewhere, been shown to enable/facilitate the penetration of marine radioactivity for across the shoreline and up to 10 miles inland from the coast.

 

Fukushima: Japanese government and IAEA ignore radiation risks to coastal population http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2985454/fukushima_japanese_government_and_iaea_ignore_radiation_risks_to_coastal_population.html Tim
Deere-Jones 28th September 2015 

Radiation can be carried long distances by marine currents, concentrated in sediments, and carried in sea spray 16km or more inland, writes Tim Deere-Jones. So Fukushima poses a hazard to coastal populations and any who eat produce from their farms. So what are the Japanese Government and IAEA doing? Ignoring the problem, and failing to gather data.

Review of the official Japanese marine monitoring programme reveals that the Japanese government is turning a blind eye to the risks of marine radiation from the stricken Fukushima site.

The strategy it has adopted, with the support of the IAEA, consistently ignores the latest evidence about the way marine radioactivity behaves in inshore marine environments and the potential radiological risks to coastal populations.

This strategy is based on a flawed hypothesis, developed by the nuclear industry through the late 1940s and early 1950s, when both oceanography and the study of the behaviour and fate of radioactivity in marine environments were in their absolute infancy.

As a result, the principal conclusions on the marine impact of the Fukushima event put forward in recent reports from the IAEA, the Government of Japan and it’s relevant agencies, minimise the environmental and public health negatives and emphasise a range of hypothetical ‘positives’.

This is a major flaw because the empirical evidence from ‘non-aligned’ research in the UK is that coastal communities are subjected to highly enriched doses of marine radioactivity through pathways of exposure, and from environmental parameters, which will not be analysed and researched under current Fukushima monitoring plans.

As a result, significant public health impacts of the event will not be documented, nor will important data about the way Fukushima marine radioactivity behaves at the coastline.

Failing to gather the evidence of coastal radiation (more…)

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, University of Victoria, leaders in studying radiation in Pacific Ocean

September 4, 2015

Great article. As an anti nuclear activist myself, I think that it is most important that we keep our concerns in proportion. The nuclear industry has so many bad effects, that we don’t ned to exaggerate ones that are not clear. Thankfully, despite government inertia, Buesseler and co are working to establish the facts on the effect if the Fukuhsima disaster on the ocean.


Radiation in the Ocean 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-neill/radiation-in-the-ocean_b_8072914.html?ir=Australia  Director, World Ocean Observatory The West Coast of the United States seems under siege by negative environmental news: earthquake predictions, oil spills, drought, critically diminished water supply, wildfires, and numerous accounts of unusual coastal events: algae blooms, whale strandings, cancer in seals, collapse of fish stocks, and more.

How to explain? Well, much of this can be attributed to climate factors where rising temperatures have resulted in multiple inter-related consequences: limited glacial melt, increased evaporation, no water, dry land, and the inevitable fire darkening that pristine Pacific air with smoke and ash the length of the coast.

The ocean phenomena may be different. The warming of the ocean surely has an impact on changing growth patterns of marine plants and animals, just as the changing pH or acidity of the ocean has been shown to modify habitat and migrations. But what else?

One argument has been the effect of radiation leaking from the three nuclear power plant reactors shut down by the earthquake and resultant tsunami tidal wave that inundated Fukushima, Japan in 2011, and has been thereafter distributed by ocean currents; indeed there is evidence of a plume of increased concentration of Cesium-134, and other radioactive elements that have been observed at unprecedented levels, spreading out some 5,000 miles into the Pacific toward North and South America. In April of this year, there were headlines declaring that “Fukushima radiation has reached the North American Shore” and concerns were raised, spread through the Internet and press, that this was surely the cause of these otherwise inexplicable anomalous natural events.

There is no Federal agency that funds monitoring of radiation in coastal water, and the present effort, conducted since 2004 by Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist at theWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution, has been underwritten by crowd-funding and the efforts of volunteers taking samples to provide data on cesium isotopes along the west coast of Alaska, the U.S. mainland coast, and Hawaii, the information that has been used to model potential distribution and concentration of any contamination. A comparable effort has been launched in Canada, led by Jay Cullen of the University of Victoria in collaboration with government, academic, and NGO partners.

The radioactivity has been decreased by time, the natural half-life of the isotopes, and by dilution in a very large and deep body of water. In their samples, Buesseler and his “citizen scientists” did detect cesium-137 already in the waters as a result of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 60s, and cesium-134 which does not otherwise occur naturally in the ocean and can only be attributed to Fukushima, to serve as a first baseline for subsequent collection, analysis, modeling, and conclusion.

Buesseler channels his research through the Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity at the Woods Hole Institute, where he offers a preliminary conclusion that “the amount of cesium-134 reported in these new offshore data is less that 2 Becquerels (a radioactive measure) per cubic meter (the number of decay events per second per 260 gallons of water.) This Fukushima-derived cesium is far below where one might expect any measurable risk to human health or marine life, according to international health agencies. And it is more than 1,000 times lower than acceptable limits in drinking water set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”

Buesseler continues, “We emphasize that cesium-134 has not been detected YET as it has been detected offshore of North America by Canadian oceanographers… The uncertainty in the predictions by these ocean models only emphasizes the importance of collecting samples from along the shores. Remember too that those models predict interacting levels of both cesium isotopes for the next 2 or 3 years, the highest published prediction is for 20 to 30 Becquerels per cubic meter, or well below what is thought to be of human health and fisheries concerns.”

So, yes, and no. No definitive conclusion, no clear argument that radiation is the cause of those coastal events which distress us so. There is no solace in uncertainty, just as there is no certainty without evidence. The question is immensely important and thanks to Ken Buesseler and all those volunteers alongshore and in research vessels who are working to provide the substance for a real answer.

Independent study of Fukushima radiation in the ocean

September 4, 2015

Examining the fate of Fukushima contaminants, Science Daily,

Fraction of buried, ocean sediment uncovered by typhoons, carried offshore by currents August 18, 2015,  Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Summary:
An international research team reports results of a three-year study of sediment samples collected offshore from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The research aids in understanding what happens to Fukushima contaminants after they are buried on the seafloor off coastal Japan. Scientists found that a small fraction of contaminated seafloor sediments off Fukushima are moved offshore by typhoons that resuspend radioactive particles in the water.
An international research team reports results of a three-year study of sediment samples collected offshore from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in a new paper published August 18, 2015, in the American Chemical Society’s journal,Environmental Science and Technology.

The research aids in understanding what happens to Fukushima contaminants after they are buried on the seafloor off coastal Japan.

Led by Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist and marine chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the team found that a small fraction of contaminated seafloor sediments off Fukushima are moved offshore by typhoons that resuspend radioactive particles in the water, which then travel laterally with southeasterly currents into the Pacific Ocean.

“Cesium is one of the dominant radionuclides that was released in unprecedented amounts with contaminated water from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami,” says Buesseler. “A little over 99 percent of it moved with the water offshore, but a very small fraction–less than one percent–ended up on the sea floor as buried sediment.”

“We’ve been looking at the fate of that buried sediment on the continental shelf and tracking how much of that contaminated sediment gets offshore through re-suspension from the ocean bottom,” he adds.

The research team, which included colleagues from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, analyzed three years’ worth of data collected from time-series sediment traps……….

“The total transport is small, though it is readily detectable. One percent or less of the contaminated sediment that’s moving offshore every year means things aren’t going to change very fast,” Buesseler says. “What’s buried is going to stay buried for decades to come. And that’s what may be contributing to elevated levels of cesium in fish–particularly bottom-dwelling fish off Japan.”

While there were hundreds of different radionuclides released from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant during the disaster, after the initial decay of contaminants with half lives (the time it takes for one half of a given amount of radionuclide to decay) less than days to weeks, much of the attention has remained focused on cesium-137 and-134– two of the more abundant contaminants. Cesium-134 has a half-life of a little over two years, and so any found in the ocean could come only from the reactors at Fukushima. Cesium-137 has a half-life of roughly 30 years and is also known to have entered the Pacific as a result of aboveground nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s and ’60s, providing a benchmark against which to measure any additional releases from the reactors.

In October, Buesseler and the research team will return to Japan to redeploy more sediment traps. The continued study will help estimate how long it takes to decrease the level of radiocesium in seafloor sediments near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionNote: Materials may be edited for content and length. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150818112431.htm

USA military well aware that ionising radiation accumulates in organisms

July 31, 2015

The Bioaccumulation of contamination in plankton, US Armed Forces, 1955 , Paul Langley’s Nuclear History Blog Quote (emphasis added) “Page 59. The problem of radioactive particles falling into the ocean raises the question of their availability to this portion of the biosphere. Plankton normally found in sea water are consumed in large quantities by fish.

These plankton concentrate mineral elements from the water, and it has been found that radioactivity may be concentrated(Page 60) in this manner by as much as a thousand fold. Thus, for example, one gram of plankton could contain a thousand times as much radioactivity as a gram of water adjacent to it. The radioactivity from these plankton which form a portion of fish diet tends to concentrate in the liver of the fish, and, if sufficiently high levels of contamination are encountered, could have a marked effect upon the ecology of an ocean area.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7752105

J Radiat Res. 1994 Dec;35(4):213-21.
Concentration factors for Cs-137 in marine algae from Japanese coastal waters.
Tateda Y, Koyanagi T.
Source
Abiko Research Laboratory, Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry, Chiba, Japan.
Abstract
Concentration factors (CF: Bq.kg-1 in wet algae/Bq.kg-1 in filtered seawater) for Cs-137 in Japanese coastal algae, were investigated during 1984-1990. Cs-137/Cs(stable) atom ratios were also examined to clarify the distribution equilibrium of Cs-137 in marine algae and sea water. The CFs in marine algae were within the range of 5.4 approximately 92, and the geometric mean of CF was 28 +/- 2 (standard error) in Japanese coastal species. The CFs in edible species were within the range of 5.4 approximately 67, and the geometric mean of CF was 26 +/- 4 (standard error). The values of Cs-137/Cs atom ratios in marine algae and sea water indicated that Cs-137 reached an equilibrium state in partition between algae and sea water. Therefore, the CF value obtained in the present study can be regarded as an equilibrated value. Our results showed that the CF for Cs-137 in Japanese coastal algae were consistent with the Japanese guideline CFs, but were smaller than the recommended value by IAEA.
PMID: 7752105 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free full text

end quote.

http://www.dutchdailynews.com/greenpeace-in-japan/………….https://nuclearhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/the-bioaccumulation-of-contamination-in-plankton-us-armed-forces-1955/