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Friday, February 20, 2009

Garbage Patches

Calling all sailors; calling all mariners. If you plan to sail the Atlantic, Pacific, or Indian Oceans, consider setting your course through five garbage patches. Nickolai Maximenko (International Pacific Research Center; IPRC) and Peter Niiler (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) analyzed the tracks of nearly 12,000 drifting buoys to calculate the locations of five garbage patches.
The amazing result is shown in Figure 3d of their article entitled “Tracking Ocean Debris” in IPRC Climate, Volume 8, Number 2, 2008. The article may be found by Googling “IPRC Ocean Debris,” which takes you to the following address: http://iprc.soest.hawaii.edu/publications/newsletters/newsletter_sections/iprc_climate_vol8_2/tracking_ocean_debris.pdf
What’s needed is for mariners to sail through these patches and report what they see. Particularly the three patches in the Southern Hemisphere for which observations are scarce. If you plan on visiting a garbage patch, please let me know so we can discuss details.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Paul Cater Deaton said...

I heard you on NPR's "Science Friday" yesterday. I have been fascinated by this phenomenon for quite some time, and am trying to become attached to the film crew for an upcoming documentary. I am subscribing to your newsletter. Thanks for the work you do. Kindest personal regards, Paul Cater Deaton

April 11, 2009 at 6:40:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Grikdog said...

I heard you on NPR's "Science Friday" yesterday. So much for a dead Eskimo's chances for a quiet burial at sea, huh? After hearing that, I am trying to become attached to a bottle of vodka for an upcoming mockumentary about my moving back to Kansas.

April 11, 2009 at 10:40:00 AM PDT  
Blogger dana said...

Your interview on NPR's "Science Friday" was extremely interesting...and very inspiring. I have been exploring "Flotsam Fields" (as I call them) since I was a young boy. These are the flotsam deposits that are lifted by extreme "moon tides", then left to dry-out in the sun. It's amazing what stories this junk could tell, but more so...what it says about us. The most telling concern being the huge amount of "pressure treated" lumber. This wood was formally treated with arsenic, but now with some other environmentally unfriendly chemical. The ocean has been used as an "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" hiding place for our discards. I've been through the Sargasso Sea (the Bermuda Triangle), the mid Atlantic, and the Caribbean Ocean. I have witnessed what Neptune has claimed but then I've witnessed what he's thrown back on shore as well. He didn't want it either! If a FLOTSAMETRICS logo was ever an appropriate visual, this would be it!

Having been raised here along the Connecticut coast, Long Island Sound has plenty of flotsam depositories. But for the record, NEVER have i witnessed so much flotsam and jetsam as I have along the major river ways. The Connecticut River (for one) is strewn with so much debris, it becomes impossible to find landing locations for a small skiff. A recycling plant could be kept running 24/7 X 365...if it used just what I've seen along this river. What this is leading to, is whether anyone has studied the effect that these "moon tides" have on these river deposits? A normal high tide will affect river waters for many miles inland. These excessive moon tides will loosen and raise this flotsam, re-releasing it to flow into the LI Sound and eventually...the ocean. I have witnessed HUGE old-growth-sized tree trunks (some milled, some not), lifted from the river banks and re-floated. I have also wondered, which unaware boater is going to find one of these "floating forests" the hard way?

Thank you Curtis Ebbesmyer and Eric Scigliano! I'll be sure to purchase your new book.

April 12, 2009 at 3:55:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Lynne said...

Question there : Why doesn't some one clean the mess up and keep it some what cleaned off the ocean ?

April 12, 2009 at 7:05:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Dayv said...

I know this sounds strange, but where could one get one of those rubber duckies?
I have a rubber ducky collection, & one of these that have traveled the world's oceans would be great! Any Ideas? Could I actually find 1 here on Oahu somehow?

April 13, 2009 at 7:29:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your NPR story missed the point almost entirely. There was a brief mention of seabirds eating plastic from the ocean, but what about all of Charles Moore and others' work on the 6x more plastic than plankton in the N Pacific, 1,000,000x higher concentration of toxic pollutants attached to plastic pieces than in surrounding seawater, millions of seabird and marine mammal (to name a few victims) deaths each year from ingestion, poisoning, and entanglement? And the human angle of it - if you eat fish, you're probably eating plastic from the ocean (with bioaccumulated and biomagnified toxicity too).
As a researcher in this field it was your duty to at least mention some of these dour facts rather than simply talk about how great you perceive trash in the ocean to be. I'm glad that there's an upside, but you really missed an opportunity to educate people about a serious problem that we are all contributing to.

April 15, 2009 at 3:11:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone found the floating garbage on Google Earth?

April 16, 2009 at 2:42:00 PM PDT  

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