NOAA scientists are combing Alaska beaches again in their search for marine debris from the 2011 tsunami that hit Japan.
Five scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are in the Yakutat area this week, where they will be walking several miles each day before going on to a new segment of beach.
After Yakutat, they’ll head to the Cordova area, Kayak Island, and Montague Island in Southcentral Alaska.
Jacek Maselko is the lead scientist. In an interview before the group left, he said NOAA has previous data from many of the beaches, so they will be able to see how things change over time.
“We’re going to specific spots that we surveyed in 2008, 1998 and then ’92 and prior years. So those are the exact specific beaches, shoreline segments, that we have surveyed in the past,” he said. “We have a pretty good long term distribution of the density and the composition of the debris that’s found on those specific beaches.”
In June the NOAA scientists visited 36 Southeast Alaska sites on the outer coast, from Dixon Entrance to Cape Spencer.
“There’s so much variability between each segment that you cannot use one to predict what’s going to be on the next one. So really what we found here in Southeast in our last survey, the densities, the quantities, we can’t really use that to say what we’re going to find up north. Even on adjacent segments they can have quite different densities,” he said.
Maselko plans to look for tsunami debris over as much of the Gulf of Alaska shoreline as possible this summer, and revisit many of the same areas next year.
So far most of what the scientists have catalogued is common stuff, but in the June survey they found a number of large black, yellow and orange oval buoys, which they believe to be part of the Japanese fish farming industry.
View Search for tsunami debris moves north in a larger map
- Former Sen. John Glenn has died at 95. After a career as a Marine pilot, Glenn was chosen as an astronaut. He was the third American in space.
- In the past two months, 300 dead puffins have washed up on St. Paul Island, alarming residents who had only seen six carcasses over the last decade. The die-off appears to be slowing down now, but scientists say it could be the sign of a much larger ecosystem problem.
- The pilot was alone, flying a small aircraft, according to the troopers.
- The Census Bureau designates languages for translation based on its estimates for speakers who have limited English proficiency.