The great spot of the Pacific, where the greatest contamination of plastics is concentrated, is even larger than what was estimated according to the latest studies: it is estimated that the area extends 1.6 million km2, containing 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing 80,000 tons.
New analyzes reveal that the most polluted region of plastics in the Pacific contains 16 times more plastic than previously estimated, with pollution levels increasing exponentially.
1.8 billion pieces of plastic, with an estimated weight of about 80,000 tons, are currently floating in the area known as the garbage island, or the great patch of the Pacific, and it is growing by leaps and bounds. These are the main conclusions of three years of work to map the area, carried out by the large international team of scientists affiliated with The Ocean Cleanup Foundation together with six universities.
The large plastic spot is located halfway between Hawaii and California; it is the largest concentration of plastic in the world in water. The methods for sampling this garbage that scientists have used until now were based on thin nets no larger than one meter. However, this method cannot quantify the problem in all its magnitude since it cannot pick up objects larger than the network itself. Therefore, this time, to analyze the extent of the stain, the team has made a considerable sampling crossing the field of waste with 30 boats simultaneously, aided by two aircraft. Although many of the boats were equipped with standard surface sampling networks, the RV Ocean Starr He dragged two devices six meters wide that allowed the team to sample medium and large objects.
To increase the inspection area and quantify the larger plastic pieces, which include large fishing nets, sensors were installed in one of the aircraft that collected multispectral images and 3D scans of the ocean litter. The fleet collected 1.2 million plastic samples, while the aircraft scanned more than 300 km2 of the surface.
The level of contamination has grown exponentially since the first samples analyzed in the 70s. This research demonstrates the urgency, with which this problem should be addressed, but more importantly, the results provide key data to develop and test a technology Effective cleaning, and since the number of microplastics can be multiplied by ten, the time to start is now.
Source: Sector Maritimo