From the Cover: Cesium-137 deposition and contamination of Japanese soils due to the Fukushima nuclear accident
The largest concern on the cesium-137 (137Cs) deposition and its soil contamination due to the emission from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) showed up after a massive quake on March 11, 2011. Cesium-137 (137Cs) with a half-life of 30.1 y causes the largest concerns because of its deleterious effect on agriculture and stock farming, and, thus, human life for decades. Removal of 137Cs contaminated soils or land use limitations in areas where removal is not possible is, therefore, an urgent issue. A challenge lies in the fact that estimates of 137Cs emissions from the Fukushima NPP are extremely uncertain, therefore, the distribution of 137Cs in the environment is poorly constrained. Here, we estimate total 137Cs deposition by integrating daily observations of 137Cs deposition in each prefecture in Japan with relative deposition distribution patterns from a Lagrangian particle dispersion model, FLEXPART. We show that 137Cs strongly contaminated the soils in large areas of eastern and northeastern Japan, whereas western Japan was sheltered by mountain ranges. The soils around Fukushima NPP and neighboring prefectures have been extensively contaminated with depositions of more than 100,000 and 10,000 MBq km-2, respectively. Total 137Cs depositions over two domains: (i) the Japan Islands and the surrounding ocean (130-150 °E and 30-46 °N) and, (ii) the Japan Islands, were estimated to be more than 5.6 and 1.0 PBq, respectively. We hope our 137Cs deposition maps will help to coordinate decontamination efforts and plan regulatory measures in Japan.