The Geography Blog focusing on all things geography: human, physical, technical, space, news, and geopolitics. Also known as Geographic Travels with Catholicgauze!
Written by a former National Geographic employee who also proudly served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Japanese Tsunami Debris' Long Journey to North America and Back to Asia
Lately there has been a rash of news stories about basketballs, motorcycles, and even fishing boats from Japan washing up on the shores of Canada and the United States. I overheard a news report claiming that the bulk of Japanese 2011 Tsunami debris is about to crash upon the beaches of the United States. That is not true. The majority of debris sank off the coast of Japan and the bulk of that still is still floating is making its way to the United States and Canada but still has some distance and time to go before it beaches or begins to float back to Asia.
From NOAA. Click to enlarge
According to NOAA's Marine Debris Program most of the floating debris is north of Midway Island and the Hawaiian Islands. What is coming ashore are high windage items, things easily blown by the wind. Medium and low windage items will be washing up on shore for about three years before the currents begin to take the debris towards Micronesia and Asia.
Time map of where and when the debris will float to. From NOAA. Click to enlarge.
For those want to help out with monitoring Japanese Tsunami debris and beach debris in general can take an active role by downloading NOAA's official beach debris reporting app (for Android and Apple) and report any finds.