The oceans suffer from various types of pollution and researchers are interested in how ocean litter travels around. Recent reports claim that deep waters have high mercury levels, after the first mercury measurements have been performed. Other reports we recently reported on warn that the increased ocean acidity level, the fishing industries might suffer.
The great plastic patches lying in the planets oceans’ have concerned environment advocates and scientist alike for a couple of decades now. The first attempts to assess the level of ocean plastic pollution date back to the 1970s. Surprisingly, a recent research showed that the level of ocean plastic pollution is lower than expected. Nevertheless, the conclusion were drawn upon samples of surface waters, rendering the results less accurate. The great plastic patches could be called ‘plastic soups’ instead, as the plastic debris has decomposed over time in tiny particles. Fish can easily and unknowingly ingest the plastic, so chances are that we will end up eating our own garbage.
Now researchers looked differently at the plastic pollution. In the article titled “How well-connected is the surface of the global ocean?” published on Tuesday in Chaos journal, researchers attempted to provide a strategy of identifying the biggest plastic polluters.
Ocean litter travels around, but the origin can be traced back
“If you throw out your plastic on a beach somewhere in California, or somewhere in Virginia, then how does that move through the ocean and in which ocean basin will it get into?” asked Erik van Sebille, an oceanographer also at the University of New South Wales.
There are five floating garbage patches in the world’s oceans. The overall surface is twice the size of Texas. The three Australian researchers used mathematical models of ocean currents to identify various ocean sections. On the road, they discovered the model can help identify the debris’ origin.
“We’ve redefined how one should draw the borders of the oceans,” said coauthor and mathematician Gary Froyland, at University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. “It’s more scientifically meaningful to draw the boundaries according to where the water moves as opposed to just the legal, geographical boundaries.”
The model proposed by the team of scientists can be used to predict the future formation of plastic patches once researchers understand how ocean litter travels. Unfortunately, we are not capable of collecting the plastic discharged so far with today’s technology, so it’s best to just stop throwing garbage in the oceans in the first place.