Each visit back to Fukushima has brought changes – we contributed our knowledge and instruments to build greenhouses. Recently, we saw Wagyu cattle – for which Iitate was famous for before the disaster – grazing on decontaminated soil. There’s also a new restaurant, serving food made with produce from the area.
Still, areas like the forests are difficult to decontaminate because of their lush vegetation, tall canopies, and steep terrain. Some areas also have a high erosion potential which can push contaminated sediment into the streams during heavy rains. METER instrumentation can help to show how these sediments are distributed.
Scientists can’t turn back time. But we can join forces and expertise to solve problems, help deal with the consequences and prevent future mistakes. What drives us is seeing the difference made by the volunteers rehabilitating the land in the eyes of those who lost so much. It is hard to know what the future holds for Iitate, but, judging by the determination of the residents and love of the volunteers, there's no reason to lose hope.
The goal of this project is to educate about the importance of glaciers, provide solutions to reduce emissions and put pressure on politicians to deal with the climate crisis. Meltdown Flags is an open source climate data project initiated by environmental technology company METER. Data sources include METER, UNESCO, NASA, World Glacier Monitoring System (WGMS), United Nations Environmental Programme, the University of Zurich and the University of Innsbruck.