August 23, 2010

North Atlantic Garbage Patch

Millions of pieces of plastic — most smaller than half an inch — float throughout the oceans. They are invisible to satellites, and except on very calm days you won’t even see them from the deck of a sailboat. The only way to know how much junk is out there is to tow a fine net through the water.


Scientists have gathered data from 22 years of surface net tows to map the North Atlantic garbage patch and its change over time, creating the most accurate picture yet of any pelagic plastic patch on earth.


Millions of pieces of plastic — most smaller than half an inch — float throughout the oceans. They are invisible to satellites, and except on very calm days you won’t even see them from the deck of a sailboat. The only way to know how much junk is out there is to tow a fine net through the water.


Scientists have gathered data from 22 years of surface net tows to map the North Atlantic garbage patch and its change over time, creating the most accurate picture yet of any pelagic plastic patch on earth.


Plastic accumulated in regions called gyres, where currents circle and push water toward the center, trapping the floating bits. There are five major gyres in the the world, one in each major ocean.  


Read more: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/08/atlantic-plastic
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