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Sea Surface Microlayer
A large proportion of the Fukushima emissions were in the form of silica microparticles containing a multitude of radioactive components.  The form and composition of this fallout tells the story of the nuclear power plant explosions, and how the nuclear fallout is transported and distributed into the environment.

In the photo below, large voids are seen in the microparticles. One result is that the highly radioactive microparticles would float on the surface of the ocean.   This is important because there is a specific zone in the ocean, the surface microlayer, which is the source of about half the oceanic ecosystem food chain.    If the radioactivity remained in this zone,  it would not dilute, as often stated,  and it would not be detected in samples taken in the water column below. 

A good starting point for a radio-ecological analysis is the hypothesis that the sea surface microlayer was poisoned with this radioactive fallout, creating a cascade of  effects in the food chain.  The radioactive particles may clump together, creating radioactive hot spots.  Plankton may bioaccumulate the radioactivity.  

[Image: images?q=tbn%3AANd9GcQShQdAcWQT1kCg4-k65...BmoPTrobbL]
Photo from
'Compositional and structural analysis of Fukushima-derived particulates using high-resolution x-ray imaging and synchrotron characterisation techniques '
PeterG. Marti
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
The poisonous radioactive sea surface biofilm

Scientists were quick to point out that Fukushima emitted radiation levels across the Pacific Ocean were 'low', and below any level that could harm humans or other animals.  Consistently, the comparison is made to background levels of radiation naturally in the ocean.   At the same time, we witnessed widespread decimation of life coincident to the Fukushima disaster.  The mystery is how could radiation levels from Fukushima fallout, at a fraction of the intrinsic radiation of the ocean be the cause of these mortality events?

A few factors, not often mentioned;

First, radiotoxicity of different radionuclides is in dispute amongst professionals.  So nuclear fallout, especially when internalized, can be hundreds of times more toxic than given by the standard ICRP dose model.  This is a positively huge factor in the discussion.   This discrepancy in scientific agreement changes everything.   The camp saying that synthetic radionuclides....man made radiation....are as a general rule, much more toxic than assumed, is not to be dismissed.   This information comes mainly from the European Committee on Radiation Risk.  I havent seen any credible refutation of these incredibly elevated risk factors, which were derived in large part from Chernobyl studies. 

Another factor is the nature of the fallout.  A large fraction of the Fukushima emissions were in the form of microscopic silica based aerosols.  Cesium, other fission products and particles of fuel rods and containment structures were encased in airborn microparticles.  The particles that landed on the ocean were likely 'stuck' in the sea surface microlayer, a kind of gelatinous biofilm that covers much of the ocean surface.  The fallout, in the form of microscopic hot particles, would stick to the fur of sea lions,  feathers of birds, as well as being eaten by plankton.

Not only is the sea surface a zone of concentrated nuclear fallout, but the hot particles are of course concentrated points of radiation.  The result is not at all represented by water column measurements or average  levels of radiation. 

A cascade of secondary effects may occur.  Poisoning of the base of the food web.  Biological reactions, not just to radiation but the inflammation and stress that can lead to infections.  Decreased immune function, alteration of natural biomes on the skin, and more.

The following quote gives an idea of the various factors that can upset the balance and lead to sea lion fungal skin lesions,  as an example.

  "disease is a common problem of captive marine mammals , and can be recurrent in some animals. Although pinnipeds are relatively resistant to superficial mycoses , there are several reports of superficial infections in seals, sea lions and elephant seals that are caused by yeasts  and moulds . Among the factors proposed to be associated with these kind of lesions are warm pool temperatures, excess pool chlorine levels that eliminate the normal bacterial flora of the skin, prior or concomitant bacterial or viral infections, prolonged antibiotic use, nutritional imbalances, the presence of skin abrasions, and various intrinsic and extrinsic stressors, including breeding season, moulting, transport or social isolation"  https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Skin..._228369789

Animals are sensitive, even 'delicate'!

The head of sea lions is always coming up through the sea surface microlayer. A film of this microlayer, including its toxic components will stick to the hair and skin.  Hot spots of radioactivity create biological responses,  broadly characterized as an inflammation and defense reaction.   There are similarities to the allergic response.  This can be a problem of its own, i.e. radiotoxicity,  or lead to secondary infections.  

Were scientists wrong to so quickly rule out Fukushima fallout in the etiology of the variety of morbid presentations of aquatic animals?  Radiation and other toxins are enriched by 5 to 500 times in the sea surface microlayer.  The buoyant nature of at least some of the silica aerosols may have increased the sea surface residence time.   

For the suspicious minded, its noteworthy that science knows about this toxic enrichment of the sea surface microlayer and yet it was never mentioned by the major mouthpieces in the media, like Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute or NOAA. 

[Image: 253a04095c625251808a6143a17da2bc.jpg]
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
Code - At the same time, we witnessed widespread decimation of life coincident to the Fukushima disaster.  The mystery is how could radiation levels from Fukushima fallout, at a fraction of the intrinsic radiation of the ocean be the cause of these mortality events?

Its so the governments and nuke industry can deny any harm from their nuclear pollution.  It worked back in the Sixties when Ocean life depletion was blamed on overfishing.  No one thought to connect it to the open air nuclear bomb testing fallout.  You provide a good mechanism to explain how radioactive fallout could be causing these mortality events even while the water column tests nearly normal.  That's why I like your research Code, you put forth scientific observations that media studiously avoids, so it remains, officially, a mystery.  

The tsunami wreckage floating out to sea was covered with most of the blast material from Fuku's melt outs and pool fires.  Its a mystery how it all disappeared at sea with no effect on the Ocean at all.  

I see the same approach being taken by Japan/TEPCO to dump Fuku water.  Too many official scientists say that Tritium won't harm humans so its safe to evaporate or dump as much as they want, and only the fishermen worry about how it destroys aquatic life and their livelihoods.
"The map is not the territory that it is a map of ... the word is not the thing being referred to."
the presumptuous pedagogue.

thanks for weighing in Horse.  
One of the scientists that refutes any effect from Fukushima is a deep sea biologist who writes at Deep Sea News.  It could be anyone, but I will use this example of something which I find important. Namely, the presumptuous pedagogue.

Is the sea floor littered with dead animals due to radiation? No.

I take in the points made about marine snow and so on.  But in the end he shares his emotional state;
"As I write this post on this cold Saturday morning, my attitude matches. ...  I shoudn’t be defending great science against propaganda and poor journalism."

The author is 'cold'  I would say even angry about what he thinks is unscientific journalism, which he makes pains to compare to good science. Now in this piece he states that " the amounts and frequency of both normal marine snow and the blizzards are changing."   But from what?  The implication is....wait for it...climate change. 

Now here is the thing;  One of the authors' interests is climate change.  ", I am also working toward understanding how deep-sea life will respond to increased anthropogenic impacts particularly climate change."

In the scientific method, they have proposed a hypothesis; that anthropogenic climate change is causing widespread changes in the ecosphere.  Based on this hypothesis, the work is to look for evidence that proves or...god forbid, disproves it. We cant have them feeling cold and dismal!

Conversely, he has made a hypothesis that radiation has no impact on the ecosphere.   So on the one hand, a climate variation which is smaller than daily, seasonal and decadal variances is hypothesized to cause big changes, while a huge release of super poisonous radiation is hypothesized to do nothing.

So far so good, but now my mood matches icy pavement on an overpass;  our scientists categorically, conclusively, state that their HYPOTHESES are given TRUTHS, statements of FACT.  This is the antithesis of true scientific rigor and method.  

You can bet that if the hypotheses were reversed,  such that nuclear fallout caused the observed morbidity, while small alterations in the constantly fluctuating climate were not broadly consequential, the story would be different.  They would spend year after year looking for associations of radiotoxicity and morbidity.   I bet they would find them!  

The emotion is key here;  The offense taken is a sign that the belief system is pinned by emotion.  The true scientist keeps an open mind.   The priggish institutionalist, the presumptuous pedagogue keeps a closed one


Another example of this (in my humble opinion), unscientific presumptuousness is the paper referred  in the article above.  The author makes the bold statement that climate change is having this effect of marine snow increases,  yet later admits what is actually known;

"rapid vertical transport of planktonic organisms" (marine snow)

"This result suggests that global warming-related processes enhance food supply to the deep ocean."  

 code; really?  OK lets see your proof

" the specific mechanisms behind the changes in food-supply composition and food-web processes corresponding with the peaks in 2011 and 2012 remain unknown."    

eh...what?  Say it again;

"these observed variations in the carbon cycle may be only part of interannual or multidecadal variations, unrelated to global climate change . We cannot predict whether this abyssal community at Station M is in long-term equilibrium, being sustained by previous pulses of food either before our study or missed during more recent periods of no data collection, or is in a state of change reflecting climatic variation."

In other words, so far, the hypothesis that climate change is the cause is completely unsubstantiated.  Thats what I get out of it. They dont have a clue if its due to natural variations or what mechanisms are behind it!

we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
Scientists agree on an emerging paradigm;
the tools presently available are insufficient to reliably predict risk of low dose exposures in ecosystems. 

The tubercular badger and the uncertain curve:- The need for a multiple stressor approach in environmental radiation protection


"This article presents the results of a workshop held in Stirling, Scotland in June 2018, called to examine critically the effects of low-dose ionising radiation on the ecosphere. The meeting brought together participants from the fields of low- and high-dose radiobiology and those working in radioecology to discuss the effects that low doses of radiation have on non-human biota. In particular, the shape of the low-dose response relationship and the extent to which the effects of low-dose and chronic exposure may be predicted from high dose rate exposures were discussed."

" It was concluded that high dose effects were not predictive of low dose effects. It followed that the tools presently available were deemed insufficient to reliably predict risk of low dose exposures in ecosystems. The workshop participants agreed on three major recommendations for a path forward. First, as treating radiation as a single or unique stressor was considered insufficient, the development of a multidisciplinary approach is suggested to address key concerns about multiple stressors in the ecosphere. Second, agreed definitions are needed to deal with the multiplicity of factors determining outcome to low dose exposures as a term can have different meanings in different disciplines. Third, appropriate tools need to be developed to deal with the different time, space and organisation level scales. These recommendations permit a more accurate picture of prospective risks."

When a duck is not a duck; a new interdisciplinary synthesis for environmental radiation protection
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
Fukushima decimates the nearby tidal zones

Decline in intertidal biota after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear disaster: Field observations


in 2011, 2012, and 2013, in the intertidal zones of eastern Japan, we investigated the ecological effects of the severe accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant that accompanied the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. The number of intertidal species decreased significantly with decreasing distance from the power plant, and no rock shell  specimens were collected near the plant, from Hirono to Futaba Beach (a distance of approximately 30 km) in 2012. .... Quantitative surveys in 2013 showed that the number of species and population densities in the intertidal zones were much lower at sites near, or within several kilometers south of, the plant than at other sites and lower than in 1995, especially in the case of Arthropoda. There is no clear explanation for these findings, but it is evident that the intertidal biota around the power plant has been affected since the nuclear accident.


Decline in intertidal biota after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear disaster: field observations

Gastropods (herbivorous and carnivorous snails) and crustaceans (crabs, hermit crabs and wharf roaches) were absent at almost all sites, with the exception of a limited number of small barnacles, mussels and limpets. Among the 16 sites surveyed, only one individual rock shell, Thais clavigera, was collected,... barnacles seem to have disappeared from Kuboyaji, north of FDNPP, since the 2011 nuclear disaster

Interestingly, radio-silver (110mAg) was also detected in both limpet and rock shell specimens (mainly in those collected at sites in Fukushima Prefecture) and the radio-silver concentrations of these specimens were generally higher than those of radio-caesium (Fig. 3; Supplementary Table S3). The highest concentration of radio-silver was 704 Bq/kg wet-weight in the limpet

 There is no clear explanation for these findings, but it is evident that the intertidal biota around the power plant has been affected since the nuclear accident.


Delayed Recovery from Declines in the Population Densities and Species Richness of Intertidal Invertebrates Near Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
Sea surface microlayer

That very thin layer, spread across the oceans, is at the base of the ocean food web.   The suns energy is turned into food by phytoplankton.  Its a solar powered biosphere, that's for sure.  The solar energy transformed by microorganisms is thousands of times larger than mankind's total energy use.   Thousands of times....see the perspective.   

The first wave of aerosols reached North America in just days.  Short enough so that any radioactive iodine in the aerosols was still present.  The iodine emission was about 10 times higher than cesium. It is inexplicable that science disregarded this huge wave of radioactive iodine.

80% of Fukushima emissions were blown out to sea.  The aerosols poisoned the sea surface microlayer, and the food web originating from it.   It is difficult to say how much of an impact this had on sea life, but there is no doubt the poison was there and had some impact.   This is more than hypothesis, it is fact.  The hypothesis is that it had a cascading effect throughout the ocean ecosystem resulting in much of the observed morbid and mortal effects.

The Kuroshio current is an ecosystem of its own.  It is rather poor in concentration of life, giving it the deep blue clear waters.  But it's nevertheless the birthplace of much of the ocean life of the Pacific, as it arches up and around toward Alaska and North America.  The very high levels of radiation closer to Japan would have a cascade effect on the food web further out to sea.  This is an example of how a measurement of radioactivity in the water column far out at sea is not indicative of the ecosystem wide effects of the Fukushima disaster.

If the scientists took ocean column samples, looking for dissolved cesium using ion exchange resin collection methods, it seems likely they would miss a great deal of the cesium which may have been floating on the surface, trapped in glass microspheres.

One way they collect the sea surface microlayer contents for study is to dip glass into the ocean.  When they pull it out, the microlayer is stuck to the glass.  Variations on the theme include rotating drums.

But fur is a much better binding agent...a sorbent...for radiation, than glass.   There is an active bond of radiation to fur.  
So imagine every time a sea lion breaks the surface, a new layer is added.  Of course much of it may wash off.  But some stays stuck. The hair has microscopic scales which trap radioactive microparticles.   The sea surface biofilm is gelatinous.  It probably dries to some level of integrity.  Enough to trap the toxins as ion exchange bonding occurs.  

So its easy to see a biomagnification potential....how many times per day does a seal break the surface with its head, adding a new layer of film, trapping more hot particles?   True for other animals as well of course.  birds, dolphins, whales, otters... 

The kind of test which would discover these radioactive hot spots would have to be spatially discriminate.  Something like auto-radio photography.  

Radiation levels considered safe by the mainstream ICRP dose model are not considered safe by other scientific groups.  Noteworthy is the remarkable research of Yuri Bandazhevsky, who did extensive autopsy and cellular studies of chernobyl victims.   A level of 70 bq/kg of cesium 137 is a biologically significant dose, leading to a variety of pathologies, including heart malfunction.   This is the same level of radiation as is naturally occurring from intracellular potassium.   So,  not all radiation is the same!

That dangerous level of cesium-137  is far below what is considered safe and acceptable by the standard dose model.

Radiation dose does not indicate radiation danger.  This is very important
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
Excellent focus on the surface layer, Code.  The radio-Iodine and Cesium contamination are, of course, the most concerning to man.  Vast amounts of Tritium were also released and that is most concerning to the survival of the plankton and micro-organisms in the surface layer.  The Tritium destroyed the aquatic life in the surface layer, the base of the food chain, resulting in little fish starving.  Any that survived bio-accumulated the other radionuclides up the food chain.  Woods Hole tested for Cesium but I don't remember seeing any readings for Tritium.  The radionuclides are different and the Fuku fallout was a one-two punch.  First, the Tritium destroyed the bottom of the food chain resulting in the starvation we observe in the fish and mammals.  Tritium weakens the immune system and reduces germ cell survival.  The Iodine took an immediate toll in the higher life forms and the Cesium continues the assault resulting in tumors and a shorter lifespan. The salmon starved in the depleted feeding grounds and never made it back to the rivers to breed.  The whales beaching on our shores are all malnourished and living with tumors.  It isn't really a mystery, Fuku fallout killed the bounty of the Ocean, not any global warming hype.
"The map is not the territory that it is a map of ... the word is not the thing being referred to."
Excellent work as always Code. Your words flow...

Quote:It isn't really a mystery, Fuku fallout killed the bounty of the Ocean, not any global warming hype.

I agree Horse, so many others think Fuku was just a straw. Everyone agrees, the Ocean's ecosystems were already under explicit duress.

I have questions.

What is the difference in the total volume of the Pacific Ocean and the surface area of the Pacific Ocean?
How long did the floating fallout stay on the surface? Does it pop back up in the winds and waves like styrofoam?

I think the answers change the dilution hypothesis put forth by the "Marine Biologists".

I can only marvel at the planets most important two state biological interface between atmosphere and ocean.

We look right past the surface, thinking the power is in the depths of the sea...
We always ask what have we done because we don't know what we are doing.

The volume of the surface layer would be the depth times the total surface area.  I think the surface level is often considered to be the depth that sunlight penetrates.  The tsunami debris floated for years out to sea and much of it is still out there.  The tsunami debris was toxic even without Fuku fallout from oil, gas, chemicals, plastics.  The Tritium is basically radioactive Hydrogen, it becomes part of the water molecule.  The radio-Iodine is vaporous and would dissolve out of the water into the air, a highly dangerous element lasting about 3 months. The Cesium gets incorporated into life just as Potassium would. Strontium, the bone seeker, is another long lived element that is absorbed just like Calcium. Didn't someone find Uranium buckeyballs floating around, and large amounts of Plutonium? Dilution is hype.
"The map is not the territory that it is a map of ... the word is not the thing being referred to."
Fuku Nuke Fallout accumulates where life begins.

The entire web of life in the ocean comes from the phytoplankton transforming solar energy into 'food'.  This happens at the surface,  the upper few meters, extending down to 200 meters at most.

The surface microlayer is a distinct zone.  It has a different physical character with highly enriched materials and life forms.  The deposition of radiation per sea surface area may be as or more important than becquerels per volume in the water column.  The entire fallout has to travel through this very important zone, the surface layer.  It lingers there, gets concentrated there by various factors.   And that thin layer, just a millimeter thick, along with the dynamic zone extending several meters below is where the entire ocean life gets its energy.  (neglecting a few outliers like ocean vents)

The sea surface is the solar powered origin, the birthplace of ocean life.  This life dense zone, extremely thin is normally filled with the needed nutrition of life.  Blowing dust from land brings much needed mineral nutrients.  Upwelling ocean currents, sometimes bubbles, bring nutrients to the surface. The concentration of those nutrients may be tens or even hundreds of times higher in the millimeter thick surface layer than the ocean zone just meters below.   Some of the same forces that concentrate life giving nutrients also concentrate nuclear fallout.   The result is that nuclear super poison is concentrated in lifes nurseries.  

Fallout comes with the rains, in the fog, deposited by winds,  flowing from large catchment areas into streams and then estuaries.  Estuaries are sometimes called the nurseries of the sea. Biological absorption mechanisms increase the concentration of nutrients and nuclear fallout alike.  Biomagnification is a well known ubiquitous feature of life. 
 The precious bio nutrients feed small fry, and spread out from estuaries into the sea, including the toxins,  concentrated in the sea surface microlayer. 

Scientists, in media releases, were very careful to track the plume of cesium spreading slowly through the ocean.  Finally,  years after the disaster, it arrives at North America and guess what, its a thousand times less than background radiation.  Anyone who believes this vanishingly small level of radiation is dangerous is an unscientific uneducated fear monger!   Deserving of contempt.  As we saw above, this contempt leaves some scientists feeling cold and bitter as they attempt to divide good from bad science and educate a stubborn and stupid emotionally reactive public. 

But the radiation was already in North America years before, just days following the Fukushima disaster.  Some rain samples had iodine levels exceeding safety standards.  An ecological cascade of unstudied mechanisms and extent was already in effect.  The time required for depleted fisheries to recover gives some idea of the ecosystem wide lag time of blows to the biosphere.  

To find fallout, you have to look for it where it is, not where it isnt.  I scoured the web for studies of fallout deposition in the sea surface microlayer.  I didnt find any.  Its not particularly a new study.  Years ago they measured cesium enrichment in the Mediterranean sea surface microlayer of about 12 times.  It was greater still in studies of surface films and foam in the Niagara river.  In my humble opinion, scientists from Woods Hole and others would be well aware of this, testing for it and writing media releases about it. 

[Image: par_light-depth.jpg]
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
Quote:I agree Horse, so many others think Fuku was just a straw. Everyone agrees, the Ocean's ecosystems were already under explicit duress.

Jebus, it was already bad from the nuclear bomb testing, and every accident was another straw added to the exposure.  Fuku was a big release.  Fuku wasn't the last straw because we keep getting fresh exposures.  But having nuclear power was considered worth the risks and they knew it would cause damage.  Make light of the damage with Olympic games. Welcome to the Nuclear Age.
"The map is not the territory that it is a map of ... the word is not the thing being referred to."
Scrolling thru a link Dude dropped in the Greta thread I found this interesting article on Ocean mixing.  Code, this would have implications for the spread of radionuclides in the Ocean as well as for CO2 mixing.  Radionuclides don't mix evenly throughout the entire volume of Ocean but instead spread out in thin layers.  Gotta say that fallout would have an enormous effect on the micro-layer at the surface, while a measurement taken a few meters deeper is probably as clean and safe as Woods Hole measurements imply.  

Atom Bombs, Ocean Mixing, and a Poisoned Fishing Crew
How the modern science of global warming got its start
Lee Smith
Quote:Imagine a large bowl full of water. Put a single drop of red food coloring halfway down, right in the middle, representing the radiation from an undersea blast. Now take your fist and punch from the surface tight through that drop of red. In the middle, where you punched, the coloring will mix rapidly. Further out, it will mix in tendrils and twists, curling and turning, up and down from top to bottom. This is what everyone, including Revelle, expected to see.

Now imagine that same bowl of water, but this time when you punch it, the red dye spreads in flat paper-thin sheets, with completely clear water between, never moving out of that sheet or mixing with any other water in the bowl. No one, including Revelle, expected this. But that, as impossible as it would be in your imaginary bowl, is how the ocean mixes. Sideways, in flat sheets. Not up and down. Revelle observed that there is very little vertical movement in the oceans.
"The map is not the territory that it is a map of ... the word is not the thing being referred to."
this is a repost from another thread.  I thought it goes well here

Radioactive fallout probably loitered in the sea surface microlayer,  which is a major source of nutrition which cascades through the ocean web of life. 

The sea surface microlayer is somewhat gelatinous and is known to have a much higher level of heavy metals, radionuclides and other pollutants than the water column below.  

The media releases from our trusted oceanographic institutes  said the radioactivity in the ocean was approximately 10 Bq per cubic meter, reducing to only one or two Bq/m3  near the north american coastline. 

A lot of the radiation was from aerosol fallout deposition,  not the water flow from the Fukushima basements. At least 80% of this airborne radioactivity blew out over the ocean and a large proportion was deposited.  Fallout reached the U.S. in days.

We can make a hypothesis that the deposition loitered in the sea surface microlayer.  All of the fallout has to pass through this layer.  

The total amount of I-131 and Cs-137 released from FDNPP into the atmosphere have been estimated to be in the range of (1.2–3.8) × 1017 Bq and (0.6–5.3) × 1016 Bq, respectively

surface area of north pacific ocean = 77,010,000 km2    volume = 331,000,000 km3

check the math...I get
389,610,389. bq of cesium 137 per square kilometer

lets say half the cesium 137 was deposited in the north pacific.  This yields, if Im not mistaken,  194  bq/ sq meter.  

there are 1000 mm per meter,   thus if all the fallout loitered in the top mm,  the radioactive activity would be 

194,000 bq/m3  in the sea surface microlayer of Cs137.  

which is 16 times the background radiation from potassium and 19,400 times the approximately 10 bq/m3 measured in the water column. 

bioaccumulation of plankton is at least tens and sometimes several thousand times that of the water.  An example, taking a bioaccumulation of 100 (generally the low end),  the plankton would have radiation levels of around 20,000 Bq/kg

The level of fallout was measured and found to decrease exponentially out from   Fukushima .  This rough approximation is only a representation of an average of what might have occurred in the microlayer.

The plankton have been measured, and its useful to look up the studies.

Consider that in-the-field radiotoxicity of fallout can be 8 times that in the lab  (Mousseau)  (and indicated in a study above)

Consider that the radioactive iodine was about 10 times the Cesium 137 and Cesium 134 was about equal.  Iodine emissions continued for many weeks.  Therefor there may have been several weeks where  radiation in the surface layer far across the ocean was around 10 million bq per cubic meter  of fallout which may have remarkably higher radiotoxicity than assumed by the ICRP  ( see the European Committee on radiation Risk)

Close to Fukushima, the water column had levels of iodine-131 approaching 100 million Bq/m3

Consider that several studies show no radiotoxicity from K40 at normal and even highly elevated levels.

The silica microspheres of fallout were estimated to take 30 years to dissolve in lung tissue.   At least some of the fallout was buoyant.  This could mean a sort of protracted period of time...days, perhaps months and years...of radioactive pollution existing in the ocean surface microlayer where life gets its start.  This may have a cascading effect through the ocean ecosystem.  Many features may be unknown.   
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
Levels of Fuku fallout may not be well represented by water column measurement.   Sea surface microlayer testing requires specific techniques which dont seem to have been used. 

 "The lowest concentrations of metals in the suspended particulate matter were most frequently found in the subsurface water while the highest concentrations were mostly observed in the Sea surface Microlayer  and bottom water"

Distribution of heavy metals in the dissolved and suspended phase of the sea-surface microlayer, seawater column and in sediments of Singapore's coastal environment
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
"sea surface microlayer enrichment factors of Cs-137 were between 4 and 15.  Enrichment may be explained by phytoplankton cells that have concentration factors of 20"

I cant find the link for the above at the moment.

If the enrichment factor was 10, wouldnt you miss 90% of the fallout if you measured the water column?  

we can speculate.  Hey, speculate long enough and you eventually hit on a truth

If the radiotoxicity was high enough to kill off substantial amounts of plankton,  this would starve animals down (up) the food chain.

 The elevated surface oxygen concentrations are attributed to phytoplankton production and wave aeration.  Anoxic conditions can be caused by plankton blooms dying en masse causing depletion of oxygen by bacteria and benthic organisms.  Thus it seems possible that loss of plankton from nuclear fallout could cause anoxic conditions by removing oxygen production at the top and then decomposition  by bacteria which  consume large amounts of Oxygen.    Just throwing it out there...most often, anoxic conditions are linked to fertilizer nutrient runoff and sometimes to climate change.

anoxic coastal waters cause huge fish mortality events. Fallout doesnt have to directly kill the fish if, and its a big speculative if, it contributes to anoxic conditions.

Domoic acid (neurotoxin blamed for some mortality events) production is associated with high "photon pressure"

"The 2005 bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia spp. was toxic, with domoic acid concentrations reaching 8.0 μg L−1 and mean cell toxin quotas reaching 4.9 pg cell−1. The mean cell toxin quotas were highly correlated (R = 0.97) with a multivariate statistic based on environmental data and were maximal at low silicate concentration, high salinity and dissolved inorganic carbon, and high irradiance. The correlations are consistent with photoacclimative status, with toxicity being highest under conditions likely to lead to excess “photon pressure”"


Climate change is often blamed for pseudo Nitzschia domoic acid production, but it appears to be only a hypothesis.  Radioprotection could also possibly be a factor.   Again, fallout would not have to directly cause poisoning if it shifted the ecosystem in favor of domoic acid producing Pseudo Nitzschia
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
Everything in this thread seems fairly well supported scientifically...except one thing.   I cant find any evidence of an impact on plankton biomass coinciding with the Fukushima event.    So many different animals were starving....from fish to birds to seals to whales.  Some unprecedented mortality events.  Observation and fisheries indicate the Pacific went seriously awry.  But no evidence of cause.   This thread should maybe be taken down, at least less speculative.  

Possibly the data is there somewhere but obscure.  For example, you wouldnt know that Chernobyl kills millions of birds without the sleuthing of Mousseau

There's nuclear poison....there are mortality events...but I cant link them

Comparison of float‐ and satellite‐derived estimates of phytoplankton biomass in the NPac.   A poor yield for 2011?

[Image: gbc20384-fig-0003-m.png]
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
Code - But no evidence of cause.

The Ocean's fisheries show serious declines after 3-11.  Only the nuclear industry and associated government mouthpieces claim that Fuku radiation would dilute and cause no harm.  This was always stated as fact and everyone could look to global warming as the cause.  We are to believe the fallout sank harmlessly to the bottom of the sea or otherwise just disappears.  Sprinkle dust over water and much of it floats on top due to surface tension.  Actual testing revealed that radiation spreads out in thin layers, horizontally, with no vertical mixing.  A surface micro-layer and the surface layer where sunlight penetrates would be a logical place to start looking for traces of Fuku fallout.  In fact, there was little to no serious investigation of the Fuku radiation plume at sea or in tidal zones. Woods Hole tests water at depth only to verify their assumption that the plume had diluted to non-detectable with normal readings.  Code, there should have been some studies of the surface layers to find easily, science to prove the surface layers weren't full of Fuku fallout.  

It was officially stated that the warm blob was due to global warming.  There were some who thought radiation was directly heating the waters, but that wasn't working out scientifically.  I speculate that the Fuku plume did spread out horizontally across the surface and Tritium killed the plankton, micro-organisms, and fish over a vast area.  A dead zone with no life left to shade and cool the surface layers, normal sunlight heated the waters into a warm blob.

Code, I think you're right about radiation shifting the ecosystem.  Some life forms don't do well in a more radioactive environment leaving opportunity for organisms less affected or more adapted to higher radiation levels.  The thread is good, better speculation and research than mass media entertains us with.
"The map is not the territory that it is a map of ... the word is not the thing being referred to."
Horse thanks for weighing in.

The top tens of meters of the ocean, down to 200 meters is an active mixing layer.  It is driven by winds and waves mainly.  Lower in the water column it is stable and stratified. There is a steep temperature gradient below the mixed layer and the entire column is stratified by the temperature and increasing pressure with depth.  The microlayer at the top has surface tension but also a distinct biofilm layer which can be broken by waves but which reforms.  The food web all starts at the surface from solar energy transforming phytoplankton.  

The horizontal stratification of radionuclide dispersion is caused by different reasons in the microlayer and deeper layers.

The value of the microlayer focus is the realization that radiation concentration in this layer is much higher than than the water column,  and its the layer that counts.   The deposition,  radiation per surface area,  seems more important than radiation per volume of water because of this.   All the fallout has to move through this primary food engine, a mere 1mm thick.

The water flowing from the destroyed NPP was a major source of radiation into the ocean.  the levels were extremely high locally.  Even there,  the surface microlayer may have been enriched.  The scientific testing seems to be lacking.

The frustration is finding data about the plankton which is definitively correlated to the radiation density.   From the consideration of the sea surface microlayer, we could very roughly increase the radiation dose potential of 10 bq/ m3 measured in the water column to 200,000 bq/m3  in the microlayer based on average deposition.  Thats a first pass ballpark which could of course be way off.  


My understanding of the warm blob is that a stationary atmospheric high pressure weather system reduced winds and kept the upper ocean surface from mixing, resulting in higher surface temperature.  This was linked to a decade long natural oscillation.  Ascribing the blob to climate change does not seem well supported scientifically.

This quote indicates to me that climate change is not thought to be the cause of the blob but that scientists hypothesize that for unexplained and unrelated reasons, future climate change could cause more blobs

"It bears emphasizing that the development and evolution of the blob is an example of a naturally occurring, short-term perturbation in the atmosphere and ocean climate of the North Pacific.

Nevertheless, the oceans are warming, and conditions akin to those of the last couple of years are liable to become more common in future decades, albeit for different reasons."


Plankton,  Clouds,  Climate and maybe the Blob

The plankton release various aerosols into the atmosphere. These aerosols help create clouds.  The amount of plankton in the water is an important factor in cloud formation and cloud density.   Cloud cover in turn influences weather patterns, solar heating of the ocean surface, local winds and over time, climate. 

"Aerosol-cloud interactions constitute the largest source of uncertainty in global radiative forcing estimates, hampering our understanding of climate forcings. "

The climate forcing potential of clouds is greater than CO2. Plankton are estimated to increase reflected solar radiation in excess of 10 W/ m–2 over parts of the Ocean.  A doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations, for contrast, is estimated to cause approximately 3.7 W/m2.

Some reports say plankton biomass is decreasing 1% per year with a drop of 40 to 50% over the last few decades at least in some regions.

Building blocks of ocean food web in rapid decline as plankton productivity plunges


The biofilm at the sea surface is lifted by sea spray and again forms around growing micro water droplets which seed and form clouds.  This biofilm can increase the function of cloud condensation up to ten times.

Meskhidze and Nenes (2006) observed cloud nucleating density over a large phytoplankton bloom was twice as large compared to a region distant from the bloom.

If we were speculating how Fukushima could cause the blob,  a death of surface plankton could reduce cloud formation allowing more sunshine to warm the surface, or changing wind and weather and thus surface mixing.  But that is pure speculation.
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
A huge amount of super toxic radioactivity does nothing.

maximum cesium 137 concentrations in plankton after
the accident were about  100 to 10,000 times higher
than those observed before the accident but considerably less than the no effect dose rate

Ecosystem model-based approach for modeling the dynamics of
137Cs transfer to marine plankton populations: application to the
western North Pacific Ocean after the Fukushima nuclear power
plant accident

we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout

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