A massive trail of debris from the devastating tsunami that struck Japan on March 11 is slowly making its way across the Pacific Ocean en route to the West Coast of the United States, where scientists are predicting it will arrive in the next two to three years – right on schedule.
The mass of debris, weighing millions of tons and forming a trail a thousand miles long, will likely strike Oregon and Washington, according to models based on winds and currents.
But new accounts of where the trail has progressed suggest that at least some of that debris may peel off and enter the infamous “Garbage Patch,” a huge gyre in the Pacific where plastic and other debris has accumulated over the years, according to Jack Barth, an Oregon State University oceanographer and an expert on Pacific Ocean currents and winds.
“Recent reports of debris are from farther south than the axis of the main ocean currents sweeping across the north Pacific toward Oregon,” said Barth, a professor in OSU’s College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences. “This means a fair amount of debris may enter the patch. We should still see some of the effects in Oregon and Washington, but between some of the materials sinking, and others joining the garbage patch, it might not be as bad as was originally thought.”
(Photo courtesy of US Pacific Fleet gallery on Flickr)