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Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Project

By: Pranavya, Kaitlyn, and Grace
by

Pranavya Manickavelu

on 17 September 2012

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Transcript of Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Project

By: Kaitlyn, Grace, Pranavya Fukushima Nuclear Disaster What is the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster? It is a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns, and releases of radioactive material. The radioactive isotopes traveled across the city and caused the most damage to the ecosystem. This disaster occurred on March 11, 2011 in Fukushima, Japan. What are the possible causes of the disaster? Emergency generators were required to cool reactors (to prevent from overheating), but the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami damaged them, which led to visible explosions and radiation release. How did the the nuclear disaster affect food chains in the ecosystem? Soil and water were exposed to contamination and producers and autotrophs absorbed the chemicals and began to mutate. Consumers and heterotrophs were mutated and contaminated with radioactive isotopes. Sea creatures and land animals, such as butterflies and fish, were exposed to doses of radiation that were distributed over a large region. Herbivores consumed contaminated plants that were then stored as fat. Carnivores ate those herbivores and the contaminated fat transferred on to the carnivore. Omnivores ate both plants and animals and therefore became contaminated as well. Decomposers helped in this environment to break down contaminated species. When one organism on the food chain or food web has been contaminated or mutated, then the whole chain has been affected with radiation. Due to the disaster, many organisms died off which created holes in the web or chain. Many trophic levels were extremely damaged. How did the nuclear disaster affect natural cycles? Radioactivity from the power plant was found up to 400 miles offshore and contaminated the water cycle that circulated water around. The carbon cycle was affected in multiple ways. During the process of respiration, animals were breathing in radiation and harmful chemicals and now show signs of genetic mutation. Humans planted sunflowers to absorb radiation through the process of photosynthesis; bacteria were used to decompose the contaminated sunflowers. This reduced the amount of radiation in the environment. Fires caused by the disaster released carbon into the atmosphere which is the process of combustion. The earthquake and tsunami already eroded much of the city and ecosystem. The nitrogen cycle was also affected in many ways. Free nitrogen was polluted by nuclear chemicals and slowed down nitrogen fixation (the conversion of free nitrogen into usable nitrogen called nitrates). Nitrogen fixation involved bacteria that became mutated and transferred chemicals into nitrates. The bacteria in decomposition also mutated and became harmful to the process instead of helping to break down the nitrogen. Radioactive Chemicals hindered denitrification, and therefore an insufficient amount of nitrogen was released. How does this disaster affect symbiosis? The nuclear disaster affected symbiosis because it killed off species that worked with others, which left the existing species without any help from other organisms to survive. Organisms did not have many other organisms to depend on, which negatively affected mutualism. It also positively affected mutualism because it created new relationships between different organisms. Surviving organisms would be positively affected because their immune systems would get stronger and be passed on through genetics. No other organism is directly affected so this falls under the category of commensalism. Parasitism would be increased because the need to survive would be stronger. How did the Fukushima nuclear disaster affect succession? Predators did not have as much prey to feed on which decreased their numbers. Chemicals transferred from prey to predator also killed them or affected their reproductions. The prey were killed off by the harmful radiation and the predators. Fukushima doesn’t really affect primary succession (occurs in virtually lifeless areas, where no organisms and soil has ever formed) because Japan has already gone through primary succession a long time ago, and no entirely new land has formed in Japan. The Fukushima disaster exploded and blew up most of the areas around the nuclear power plant, causing secondary succession for ecosystems to begin new life again. But, the new environment may be affected by chemicals/radioactivity. Valid References Little, Jane Braxton. "How Has Fukushima's Nuclear Disaster Affected the Environment?" Audubon Magazine. 9 Mar. 2012. Web. 8 Sept. 2012. <http://www.audubonmagazine.org/articles/birds/how-has-fukushimas-nuclear-disaster-affected-environment>. Schiermeier, Quirin. "Wildlife Suffering Around Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant: Scientific American." Wildlife Suffering Around Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant: Scientific American. Nature Magazine, 27 May 2011. Web. 9 Sept. 2012. <http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=wildlife-suffering-around-fukushima-nuclear-power-plant>. Harrison, John Arthur. "The Nitrogen Cycle." Visionlearning. National Science Foundation, 2003. Web. 8 Sept. 2012. <http://www.visionlearning.com/library/module_viewer.php?mid=98>. "Fukushima Accident 2011." Fukushima Accident 2011. Nuclear Safety Commission, Mar. 2012. Web. 9 Sept. 2012. <http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/fukushima_accident_inf129.html>.
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