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Modeling of 137Cs as a Tracer in a Regional Model for the Western Pacific, after the Fukushima–Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident of March 2011

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  • 1 NOAA/NCEP/IMSG/Environmental Modeling Center, College Park, Maryland
  • | 2 NOAA/NCEP/Environmental Modeling Center, College Park, Maryland
  • | 3 NOAA/NCEP/IMSG/Environmental Modeling Center, College Park, Maryland
  • | 4 NOAA/NCEP/Environmental Modeling Center, College Park, Maryland
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Abstract

In this study, results are presented from the first operational ocean tracer dispersion model operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Weather Service/National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NOAA/NWS/NCEP). This study addresses the dispersion of radionuclide contaminants after the Fukushima–Daiichi nuclear accident that was triggered by the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The tracer capabilities of the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) were used in a regional domain for the northwestern Pacific, with nesting lateral boundary conditions using daily nowcast–forecast fields from the global operational Real-Time Ocean Forecast System (RTOFS-Global), a ° HYCOM global forecast from NCEP, based on data-assimilative ° HYCOM Global Ocean Forecast System (GOFS) analyses from the Naval Research Laboratory/Naval Oceanographic Office (NRL/NAVOCEANO). This regional model, RTOFS Episodic Tracers for a region of the North West Pacific (RTOFS-ET_WPA), was in operation until the beginning of 2014, when the simulated 137Cs concentration was very close to the background level in the Pacific before the accident, which was about 2 Becquerel m−3 [Bq; 1 Becquerel = 1 (nuclear decay) s−1].

Corresponding author address: Zulema D. Garraffo, IMSG, NOAA/NCEP/Environmental Modeling Center, 5830 University Research Ct., College Park, MD 20740. E-mail: zulema.garraffo@noaa.gov

Abstract

In this study, results are presented from the first operational ocean tracer dispersion model operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Weather Service/National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NOAA/NWS/NCEP). This study addresses the dispersion of radionuclide contaminants after the Fukushima–Daiichi nuclear accident that was triggered by the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The tracer capabilities of the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) were used in a regional domain for the northwestern Pacific, with nesting lateral boundary conditions using daily nowcast–forecast fields from the global operational Real-Time Ocean Forecast System (RTOFS-Global), a ° HYCOM global forecast from NCEP, based on data-assimilative ° HYCOM Global Ocean Forecast System (GOFS) analyses from the Naval Research Laboratory/Naval Oceanographic Office (NRL/NAVOCEANO). This regional model, RTOFS Episodic Tracers for a region of the North West Pacific (RTOFS-ET_WPA), was in operation until the beginning of 2014, when the simulated 137Cs concentration was very close to the background level in the Pacific before the accident, which was about 2 Becquerel m−3 [Bq; 1 Becquerel = 1 (nuclear decay) s−1].

Corresponding author address: Zulema D. Garraffo, IMSG, NOAA/NCEP/Environmental Modeling Center, 5830 University Research Ct., College Park, MD 20740. E-mail: zulema.garraffo@noaa.gov
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