Fukushima contaminants found as far north as Alaska’s Bering Strait

Hurricane Maria inflicted tree damage unprecedented in modern times


A new study finds that the storm killed or severely damaged up to 40 million trees in Puerto Rico; suggests future storms could forever alter forests across the Atlantic tropics.

We all know how devastating Hurricane Maria was to Puerto Rico. Roaring onto the island in October 2017 as a Category 4 storm with winds up to 155 miles per hour and up to three feet of rain in places – it was the strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico since 1928.

Aerial photos immediately after showed a once verdant island stripped of green. How much of that was defoliation versus toppled trees? A new study/tree census has the answer, and it’s not good news.

The study, led by Maria Uriarte, a faculty member of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, found that the damage inflicted on trees in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria was “unprecedented in modern times, and suggests that more frequent big storms whipped up by a warming climate could permanently alter forests not only here, but across much of the Atlantic tropics,” according to the University.

“Biodiversity could suffer as result, and more carbon could be added to the atmosphere,” say the authors.

Not only did Maria harm more trees than any other storm studied before, but the types of trees that were…


Fukushima contaminants found as far north as Alaska’s Bering Strait

Radioactive contamination from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant hit by a tsunami in 2011 has drifted as far north as waters off a remote Alaska island in the Bering Strait, scientists said on Wednesday.  Analysis of seawater collected last year near St. Lawrence Island revealed a slight elevation in levels of radioactive cesium-137 attributable to the Fukushima disaster, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Sea Grant program said.

“This is the northern edge of the plume,” said Gay Sheffield, a Sea Grant marine advisory agent based in the Bering Sea town of Nome, Alaska.

The newly detected Fukushima radiation was minute. The level of cesium-137, a byproduct of nuclear fission, in seawater was just four-tenths as high as traces of the isotope naturally found in the Pacific Ocean.  Those levels are far too low to pose a health concern, an important point for people living on the Bering Sea coast who subsist on food caught in the ocean, Sheffield said…


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