By John Cronin
When images first circulated of a plastic Pacific island bigger than Texas, located in the “North Pacific Gyre,” many naturally wondered if we had only scratched the surface of the problem. Now it appears that is literally so. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch runs wide and deep.
A new paper, “The Effect of Wind Mixing on the Vertical Distribution of Buoyant Plastic Debris,” published in the scientific journal, Geophysical Research Letters, reports that surface observations alone are inadequate and “significantly underestimate” the depths of oceanic plastic pollution. Its key points:
- Plastic debris is vertically distributed due to wind-driven upper ocean mixing.
- Traditional measurements significantly underestimate marine plastic content.
- A geophysical approach must be taken to quantify marine plastic pollution
Reporting for California Watch, Susanne Rust cites researcher Giora Proskurowski who “collected more samples from the North Atlantic at different depths, going down as far as 100 feet. ‘Almost every tow we did contained plastic, regardless of the depth,’ he said.” More from California Watch: HERE.