2011 Volume 7 Pages 101-104
The powerful tsunami generated by the massive earthquake that occurred east of Japan on March 11, 2011 caused serious damages of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on its cooling facilities for nuclear reactors. Hydrogen and vapor blasts that occurred until March 15 outside of the reactors led to the emission of radioactive materials into the air. Here we show a numerical simulation for the long-range transport from the plant to the U.S. and even Europe with a global aerosol transport model SPRINTARS. Large-scale updraft organized by a low-pressure system traveling across Japan from March 14 to 15 was found effective in lifting the particles from the surface layer to the level of a westerly jet stream that could carry the particles across the Pacific within 3 to 4 days. Their simulated concentration rapidly decreases to the order of 10-8 of its initial level, consistent with the level detected in California on March 18. The simulation also reproduces the subsequent trans-Atlantic transport of those particles by a poleward-deflected jet stream, first toward Iceland and then southward to continental Europe as actually observed.