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FORECASTING OCEAN PLASTIC AROUND THE GLOBE – THE OCEAN CLEANUP'S PLASTIC TRACKER APP SHOWS US WHERE OUR TRASH ENDS UP
By Suzanne Forcese
“In 1965 the first piece of ocean plastic was found in a plankton recording device in the ocean. More than half a century later, plastic pollution built up so much that you can find microplastics in your table salt. Recently, researchers have even estimated that every week you ingest the equivalent in microplastics of a credit card.”
Axel Peytavin, Computational Modeler, The Ocean Cleanup
Knowing where our trash accumulates allows us to make efforts to remove it
before it harms the environment more than it already has.
The Plastic Tracker, a web application developed by the Ocean Cleanup Team, visualizes the trajectory of plastic pollution by the click of a button.
“It lets you see how and where a piece of abandoned plastic can end up if improperly discarded on the ground,” WATERTODAY learned from Axel Peytavin. “If the problem can be better understood by everyone then it helps people to fully grasp the severity of the issue and what we can do individually and collectively to solve it.”
The Computational modeling team sees millions of virtual plastic particles leave the continents and accumulate in the garbage patches on beaches. Educated guesses can then be made about where trash on the ground will end up in order to intercept a potential fate in the ocean.
The Team has several researchers working on modelling different parts of the problem: in rivers at small scales around cleanup systems, near coasts.
“To forecast ocean plastic distribution at the largest scale (Earth), we use a dispersion model.
“The results we produce may seem alarming, but they are quite insightful for the work of the Ocean Cleanup and the general public as well. And if you have some programming experience, you could learn enough to create your own model at home,” Peytavin adds.
Using Lagrangian models, data consists of virtual particles, which are then defined by their coordinates in time and their release date.
“We let them drift away in the ocean by using data about the currents, winds, and other phenomena at stake.”
The Ocean Cleanup Plastic Tracker is an attempt to convey the awareness of ocean plastic pollution.
“It is also a call to action, a reminder that by simply picking up trash when you see it, you can contribute to the fight against pollution and help us in our mission to rid the oceans of plastic.”
Plastic Tracker shows where trash may go - The Ocean Cleanup - Watch the video
THE PLASTIC JOURNEY – TURNING THE PROBLEM INTO A SOLUTION
A to Z
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