The Remote Sensing of Marine Plastics

Author: ORCID icon
Havens, Zane, Environmental Sciences - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Macko, Stephen, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia

Marine debris pollution is one of the most ubiquitous and pressing environmental issues affecting our oceans today. Increased demand for new polymer products alongside the longevity and resistance to decomposition of the plastics currently in existence offers ocean ecosystems little relief from the barrage of mismanaged plastic waste that enters waters globally. Clean up efforts have been implemented across the planet with the goal of combating this scourge; however, resources to accomplish this goal are limited and the afflicted area is vast. With the assistance of remote sensing, mitigation efforts can be applied tactfully to maximize positive impacts while limiting expenditure of resources. Remotely sensed data can be applied indirectly, providing parameters for models predicting the paths of marine debris throughout the world’s oceans, or directly, using remote sensors to locate areas with concentrations of debris in need of remediation. Although remote sensing technology has yet to achieve the resolution and accuracy to be relied on solely in this application, it has the potential to be a very useful tool in the fight to rid oceans of marine debris.

MA (Master of Arts)
marine debris, remote sensing, plastic pollution
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