1.2 Air/Sea Transport, Dispersion and Fate Modeling for Emergency Response in the Vicinity of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant: A Special Conference Session Summary

Sunday, 6 January 2013: 9:00 AM
Room 12A (Austin Convention Center)
Julie Pullen, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ; and J. Chang and S. R. Hanna

The March 2011 tragedy at the coastal Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant created a contaminant release that was transported and dispersed in both the air and the sea. Two months after the event, we began planning for a special July 2011 conference session (1) to draw together international experts who were directly involved in the scientific modeling and decision-making. We focus on presentations describing the releases to the atmosphere and ocean, how the models performed, and how predictive modeling can effectively inform crisis decision-making. This paper provides an overview of the short-range (within and near Japan) modeling conducted for the crisis and identifies some key steps that might improve the modeling response to incidents occurring in a complex coastal zone. Those steps include operational protocols to deal with source term uncertainty, scientific approaches to addressing the linkage of air/sea source terms and their subsequent transformations, and improvements in coupled air/sea models for better prediction in coastal regions. The conference included anecdotes from those deployed in Japan and tasked to deliver and interpret plume model products. The conference presentations provide insights that could benefit emergency preparedness, response, and recovery for a similar disaster in the future. In addition, we provide highlights from a subsequent AMS 2012 annual meeting session that we organized on this topic, as well as an Ocean Sciences 2012 meeting symposium focused on ocean transport of radionuclides. We will also describe efforts underway to initiate national-level studies of air/sea modeling capabilities and their linkage with decision-making in an emergency.

(1) “Fukushima Crisis: Air and Sea Transport Modeling” at the 15th Annual Conference on Atmospheric Transport and Dispersion Modeling at George Mason University, July 12- 14, 2011

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