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#402426 - 03/15/11 03:46 PM Radiation from Japan not likely to harm N.America
Marty Offline
Posted by: JeffMasters, 12:53 PM GMT on March 14, 2011

Radiation from Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been detected 100 miles to the northeast, over the Pacific Ocean, by the U.S. military. Westerly to southwesterly winds have predominated over Japan the past few days, carrying most of the radiation eastwards out to sea. The latest forecast for Sendai, Japan, located about 40 miles north of the Fukushima nuclear plant, calls for winds with a westerly component to dominate for the remainder of the week, with the exception of a 6-hour period on Tuesday. Thus, any radiation released by the nuclear plant will primarily affect Japan or blow out to sea. A good tool to predict the radiation cloud's path is NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model. The model uses the GFS model's winds to track the movement of a hypothetical release of a substance into the atmosphere. One can specify the altitude of the release as well as the location, and follow the trajectory for up to two weeks. However, given the highly chaotic nature of the atmosphere's winds, trajectories beyond about 3 days have huge uncertainties.One can get only a general idea of where a plume is headed beyond 3 days. I've been performing a number of runs of HYSPLIT over past few days, and so far great majority of these runs have taken plumes of radioactivity emitted from Japan's east coast eastwards over the Pacific, with the plumes staying over water for at least 5 days. Some of the plumes move over eastern Siberia, Alaska, Canada, the U.S., and Mexico in 5 - 7 days. Such a long time spent over water will mean that the vast majority of the radioactive particles will settle out of the atmosphere or get caught up in precipitation and rained out. It is highly unlikely that any radiation capable of causing harm to people will be left in atmosphere after seven days and 2000+ miles of travel distance. Even the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which had a far more serious release of radioactivity, was unable to spread significant contamination more than about 1000 miles.


Figure 1. Forecast 7-day movement of a plume of radioactive plume of air emitted at 12 UTC Saturday, March 12, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radioactivity emitted at 2 levels is tracked: 100 meters (red) and 300 meters (blue). Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.


Figure 2. Forecast 7-day movement of a plume of radioactive plume of air emitted at 12 UTC Sunday, March 13, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radioactivity emitted at 2 levels is tracked: 100 meters (red) and 300 meters (blue). Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.


Figure 3. Forecast 7-day movement of a plume of radioactive plume of air emitted at 12 UTC Monday, March 14, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radioactivity emitted at 2 levels is tracked: 100 meters (red) and 300 meters (blue). Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.


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#402880 - 03/22/11 01:49 PM Re: Radiation from Japan not likely to harm N.America [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Onshore winds push radioactivity towards Tokyo

Posted by: JeffMasters, 1:54 PM GMT on March 21, 2011

Radioactive plumes emitted from Japan's troubled Fukushima nuclear power plant are headed to the southwest towards Tokyo today, carried by onshore northeasterly winds. An elongated area of low pressure is located off the southeast coast of Japan, and the counter-clockwise flow of air around this low may bring several periods of onshore northeasterly winds through Tuesday to northern Japan. According to the latest trajectory plots from NOAA's HYSPLIT model, air moving towards Tokyo today will be lifted by the ascending air associated with the low pressure system, and the radioactive particles may not make it all the way to Tokyo before getting lifted high enough that they get caught in a strong upper-level flow of air from the southwest and carried out to sea. Latest radar loops from the Japan Meteorological Agency show a wide region of light rain affecting Tokyo and surrounding regions, and this rain will tend to remove the great majority of the radioactive particles from the air in a few hours, so it is uncertain how much radioactivity might make it to Tokyo. High pressure will begin building in on Tuesday over Japan, and wind will gradually shift to blow out the north, which would carry radioactivity offshore just to the east of Tokyo. Offshore winds are expected on Wednesday, but onshore winds could re-develop late in the week as a new weak low pressure system affects the region. Radiation at the levels being reported coming from the troubled plant are not high enough to be of concern to human heath outside of Japan, so I will not be posting further plots showing the long-range path of the radioactivity unless there is a major explosion resulting in a significant release of radioactive emissions.


Figure 1. One-day forecast movement of plumes of radioactive air emitted at 10 meters altitude (red line) and 100 meters (blue line) at 18 UTC (2pm EDT) Monday, March 21, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The plumes get blown by northeasterly winds close to Tokyo, before getting lifted high enough to get caught in a strong flow of air from the southwest that carries the radioactive air out to sea. Image created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.


Figure 2. One-day forecast movement of plumes of radioactive air emitted at 10 meters altitude (red line) and 100 meters (blue line) at 18 UTC (2pm EDT) Tuesday, March 22, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Northerly winds are predicted to carry radioactivity just to the east of Tokyo. A modest wind shift could bring the radioactivity to the city. Image created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.

Resources
Seven-day weather forecast for Sendai near the Fukushima nuclear plant

The Austrian Weather Service is running trajectory models for Japan.

Current radar loops from the Japan Meteorological Agency


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