Douglass Elizabeth M.

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Elizabeth M.

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  • Article
    Fukushima-derived radionuclides in the ocean and biota off Japan
    (National Academy of Sciences, 2012-04-02) Buesseler, Ken O. ; Jayne, Steven R. ; Fisher, Nicholas S. ; Rypina, Irina I. ; Baumann, Hannes ; Baumann, Zofia ; Breier, Crystaline F. ; Douglass, Elizabeth M. ; George, Jennifer ; Macdonald, Alison M. ; Miyamoto, Hiroomi ; Nishikawa, Jun ; Pike, Steven M. ; Yoshida, Sachiko
  • Article
    Short-term dispersal of Fukushima-derived radionuclides off Japan : modeling efforts and model-data intercomparison
    (Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union, 2013-07-24) Rypina, Irina I. ; Jayne, Steven R. ; Yoshida, Sachiko ; Macdonald, Alison M. ; Douglass, Elizabeth M. ; Buesseler, Ken O.
    The Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that caused a loss of power at the Fukushima nuclear power plants (FNPP) resulted in emission of radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere and the ocean. In June of 2011, an international survey measuring a variety of radionuclide isotopes, including 137Cs, was conducted in surface and subsurface waters off Japan. This paper presents the results of numerical simulations specifically aimed at interpreting these observations and investigating the spread of Fukushima-derived radionuclides off the coast of Japan and into the greater Pacific Ocean. Together, the simulations and observations allow us to study the dominant mechanisms governing this process, and to estimate the total amount of radionuclides in discharged coolant waters and atmospheric airborne radionuclide fallout. The numerical simulations are based on two different ocean circulation models, one inferred from AVISO altimetry and NCEP/NCAR reanalysis wind stress, and the second generated numerically by the NCOM model. Our simulations determine that > 95% of 137Cs remaining in the water within ~600 km of Fukushima, Japan in mid-June 2011 was due to the direct oceanic discharge. The estimated strength of the oceanic source is 16.2 ± 1.6 PBq, based on minimizing the model-data mismatch. We cannot make an accurate estimate for the atmospheric source strength since most of the fallout cesium had left the survey area by mid-June. The model explained several key features of the observed 137Cs distribution. First, the absence of 137Cs at the southernmost stations is attributed to the Kuroshio Current acting as a transport barrier against the southward progression of 137Cs. Second, the largest 137Cs concentrations were associated with a semi-permanent eddy that entrained 137Cs-rich waters, collecting and stirring them around the eddy perimeter. Finally, the intermediate 137Cs concentrations at the westernmost stations are attributed to younger, and therefore less Cs-rich, coolant waters that continued to leak from the reactor in June of that year.
  • Article
    Subtropical mode water variability in a climatologically forced model in the northwestern Pacific Ocean
    (American Meteorological Society, 2012-01) Douglass, Elizabeth M. ; Jayne, Steven R. ; Peacock, Synte ; Bryan, Frank O. ; Maltrud, Mathew E.
    A climatologically forced high-resolution model is used to examine variability of subtropical mode water (STMW) in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. Despite the use of annually repeating atmospheric forcing, significant interannual to decadal variability is evident in the volume, temperature, and age of STMW formed in the region. This long time-scale variability is intrinsic to the ocean. The formation and characteristics of STMW are comparable to those observed in nature. STMW is found to be cooler, denser, and shallower in the east than in the west, but time variations in these properties are generally correlated across the full water mass. Formation is found to occur south of the Kuroshio Extension, and after formation STMW is advected westward, as shown by the transport streamfunction. The ideal age and chlorofluorocarbon tracers are used to analyze the life cycle of STMW. Over the full model run, the average age of STMW is found to be 4.1 yr, but there is strong geographical variation in this, from an average age of 3.0 yr in the east to 4.9 yr in the west. This is further evidence that STMW is formed in the east and travels to the west. This is qualitatively confirmed through simulated dye experiments known as transit-time distributions. Changes in STMW formation are correlated with a large meander in the path of the Kuroshio south of Japan. In the model, the large meander inhibits STMW formation just south of Japan, but the export of water with low potential vorticity leads to formation of STMW in the east and an overall increase in volume. This is correlated with an increase in the outcrop area of STMW. Mixed layer depth, on the other hand, is found to be uncorrelated with the volume of STMW.