April 9th, 2010

benpeek

The Plastic World



The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also described as the Pacific Trash Vortex, is a gyre of marine litter in the central North Pacific Ocean. Although many scientists suggest that the patch extends over a very wide area, with estimates ranging from an area the size of the state of Texas to one larger than the continental United States, the exact size is unknown. Recent data collected from Pacific albatross populations suggest there may be two distinct zones of concentrated debris in the Pacific.

The Patch is characterized by exceptionally high concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge, and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre. Despite its size and density, the patch is not visible from satellite photography since it primarily consists of suspended particulate in the upper water column. Since plastics break down to ever smaller polymers, concentrated particulate is not visible from space, nor appears as a continuous debris field. Instead, the patch is defined as an area in which the mass of plastic debris in the upper water column is significantly higher than average.




Well.

There was something I learnt today, though I rather wish I hadn't.

(crossposted)