How much and what kind of debris the storm surge from super typhoon Haiyan washed into the ocean as it struck the city of Tacloban in the Philippines on November 8 is not yet known. Should such debris have been generated, however, a large fraction would be expected to move westward through the Philippine Archipelago into the South China Sea, according to a model by Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s International Pacific Research Center. The model was adapted from the one developed to track the debris from the 2011 Japan tsunami.
Whether it might reach the coasts of Vietnam or will be diverted by currents and winds to different shores of the South China Sea remains unclear.
Should the storm surge of Haiyan have generated marine debris, the color contours in the map show the likely positions for different types of objects 10 days after Haiyan’s landfall, according to this simulation. Color contours show areas where different types of debris (different windages) may be floating.
UH News stories on the tsunami debris tracking project
- “Japan tsunami debris reports match UH prediction,” October 27, 2011
- “Tsunami debris survey launched northwest of Midway,” February 8, 2012