© The Author(s), 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Annual Review of Marine Science 9 (2017): 173-203, doi:10.1146/annurev-marine-010816-060733.
The events that followed the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, included the loss of power and overheating at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants, which led to extensive releases of radioactive gases, volatiles, and liquids, particularly to the coastal ocean. The fate of these radionuclides depends in large part on their oceanic geochemistry, physical processes, and biological uptake. Whereas radioactivity on land can be resampled and its distribution mapped, releases to the marine environment are harder to characterize owing to variability in ocean currents and the general challenges of sampling at sea. Five years later, it is appropriate to review what happened in terms of the sources, transport, and fate of these radionuclides in the ocean. In addition to the oceanic behavior of these contaminants, this review considers the potential health effects and societal impacts.
K.B. was supported in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Deerbrook Charitable Trust. P.M. was supported in part by the Generalitat de Catalunya through MERS (grant 2014 SGR 1356), the European Commission 7th Framework COMET-FRAME project (grant agreement 604974), and the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad of Spain (project CTM2011-15152-E). S.C. was supported in part by the French program Investissement d'Avenir run by the National Research Agency (AMORAD project, grant ANR-11-RSNR-0002). D.O. was supported in part by the Center for Environmental Radioactivity (NFR Centers of Excellence grant 223268/F50). J.N.S. was supported in part by the Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction, and Response Network.
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