An estimated 40,000 tons of debris set adrift in the Pacific Ocean by tsunami spawned by the Great East Japan Earthquake will reach North American coastlines by next February, according to the Environment Ministry.
Drifting objects have already begun reaching waters within 10 kilometers of North American coasts.
Ministry officials said April 6 that about 1.5 million tons of debris were set adrift by the March 11, 2011, tsunami.
Although much of the debris has sunk to the ocean floor, computer simulations by Kyoto University, the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, the Meteorological Research Institute and other institutions have estimated that about 40,000 tons of floating detritus will reach North American shores by early next year.
The numerical analysis took account of the effects of westerly winds and ocean currents.
The forecasts said that most of the debris will float north past Hawaii and reach coastal waters off areas that stretch from part of Alaska, through Canada, to California.
Some drifting objects, including ships, tend to travel faster on the back of the westerlies than others.
A 50-meter Japanese fishing boat, the Ryou-Un-Maru, was recently spotted floating off the coasts of Canada and Alaska. To prevent the risk of the ship running aground and endangering other vessels, the U.S. Coast Guard sank the abandoned "ghost ship" on April 5 with a barrage of cannon fire.
Wood from houses and other objects are expected to begin reaching the North American coast this fall.
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