Tag Archives: Laurier

Update: Sampling for Fukushima Derived Radionuclides in the Northeast Pacific and Arctic 2015

By Jay T. Cullen

Locations where surface seawater samples were collected for the InFORM project in July 2015. Surface seawater temperatures at the time of collection are shown with values greater than 16C in the anomalous region referred to colloquially as “the blob”.


The purpose of this short post is to update readers on the activities of the Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring (InFORM) project. This post is the most recent in a series documenting scientific research into the impact of the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster on environmental and public health. Surface seawater samples were collected from the icebreaker CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier as it traveled between Victoria BC to Dutch Harbor Alaska during July 2015. These seawater samples will be analyzed to characterize the distribution of Fukushima derived radionuclides 137-Cesium (137Cs half life ~30 years), and 134-Cesium (134Cs half life ~2 years). As in previous years this information will help to determine how well model predictions of the activities and progression of ocean borne contamination across the Pacific Ocean match with observations. Understanding the spread of this contamination provides important information on the impact of the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster on the health of the Pacific ecosystem and the North American public. The evolution of the contaminant plume in time and space also helps the scientific community to better understand ocean mixing which is a key parameter toward understanding the oceans role in mitigating atmospheric greenhouse gas increases and climate change.
Continue reading Update: Sampling for Fukushima Derived Radionuclides in the Northeast Pacific and Arctic 2015

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Sampling for Fukushima Derived Radionuclides in the Northeast Pacific and Arctic 2015

By Jay T. Cullen

Bow of the CCGS Laurier. Great ship and crew for science operations in the Arctic.
The purpose of this short post is to update readers on the activities of the Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring (InFORM) project. This post is the most recent in a series documenting scientific research into the impact of the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster on environmental and public health. Today the icebreaker CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier will leave Victoria BC bound for Dutch Harbor Alaska and then up through Bering Sea and Strait to the Arctic Ocean. On the way the InFORM project will collect surface seawater to characterize the distribution of Fukushima derived radionuclides 137-Cesium (137Cs half life ~30 years), and 134-Cesium (134Cs half life ~2 years). As in previous years this information will help to determine how well model predictions of the activities and progression of ocean borne contamination across the Pacific Ocean match with observations. This provides important information on the impact of this contamination on the health of the Pacific ecosystem and the North American public that rely on the ocean for their food, livelihood and recreation. The evolution of the contaminant plume in time and space also helps the scientific community to better understand ocean mixing which is a key parameter toward understanding the oceans role in mitigating atmospheric greenhouse gas increases and climate change. Continue reading Sampling for Fukushima Derived Radionuclides in the Northeast Pacific and Arctic 2015

First InFORM Samples Collected to Track Fukushima Radionuclides

In addition to the citizen scientist sampling network that is under construction the other pillar of the InFORM project is the collection of samples in the open North Pacific and Arctic Oceans.  The first samples for radionuclide analyses were collected by University of Victoria undergraduate student Kathryn Purdon on the first leg of the icebreaker CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s annual operations in Canada’s far North.

UVic Undergraduate Student Research Award recipient Kathryn Purdon setting up radionuclide sampling equipment on CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier
UVic Undergraduate Student Research Award recipient Kathryn Purdon setting up radionuclide sampling equipment on CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier

The goal of our sampling program was to obtain a detailed information about the location and intensity of the Fukushima contaminated plume of seawater by collecting seawater across the northeast Pacific from Victoria to Dutch Harbor, Alaska and up through the Bering Strait in the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic Ocean.

Surface water samples collected for radionuclide analysis July 5-22, 2014 on CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
Surface water samples collected for radionuclide analysis July 5-22, 2014 on CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

60 litres of seawater was collected for each sample and processed to concentrate radioactive elements for subsequent detection by gamma spectometry.

CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier at dock CCG base Victoria, BC.
CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier at dock CCG base Victoria, BC.

Samples are currently on the way to the laboratory for analysis.  The InFORM team acknowledges the support of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Coast Guard and chief scientists Dr. Svein Vagle (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) and Dr. Jacqueline M. Grebmeier of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory and the Distributed Biological Observatory for inviting us to join the expedition.