Article in peer-reviewed journal
August 2019, Frontiers in Marine Science

Nikolai Maximenko, Paolo Corradi, Kara Lavender Law, Erik Van Sebille, Shungudzemwoyo P. Garaba, Richard Stephen Lampitt, Francois Galgani, Victor Martinez-Vicente, Lonneke Goddijn-Murphy, Joana Mira Veiga, Richard C. Thompson, Christophe Maes, Delwyn Moller, Carolin Regina Löscher, Anna Maria Addamo, Megan Rose Lamson, Luca R Centurioni, Nicole Rita Posth, Rick Lumpkin, Matteo Vinci, Ana Maria Martins, Catharina Diogo Pieper, Atsuhiko Isobe, Georg Hanke, Margo Edwards, Irina P. Chubarenko, Ernesto Rodriguez, Stefano Aliani, Manuel Arias, Gregory P. Asner, Alberto Brosich, James T. Carlton, Yi Chao, Anna-Marie Cook, Andrew B. Cundy, Tamara S. Galloway, Alessandra Giorgetti, Gustavo Jorge Goni, Yann Guichoux, Linsey E. Haram, Britta Denise Hardesty, Neil Holdsworth, Laurent Lebreton, Heather A. Leslie, Ilan Macadam-Somer, Thomas Mace, Mark Manuel, Robert Marsh, Elodie Martinez, Daniel J. Mayor, Morgan Le Moigne, Maria Eugenia Molina Jack, Matt Charles Mowlem, Rachel W. Obbard, Katsiaryna Pabortsava, Bill Robberson, Amelia-Elena Rotaru, Gregory M. Ruiz, Maria Teresa Spedicato, Martin Thiel, Alexander Turra and Chris Wilcox

  • Publication type: Article in peer-reviewed journal
  • Journal: Frontiers in Marine Science
  • DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00447
  • Collaborators: International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii (USA), European Space Research and Technology Centre (NL), Sea Education Association (USA), Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University (NL), Marine Sensor Systems, Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment, University of Oldenburg (DE), National Oceanography Centre (UK), DĂ©partement OcĂ©anographie et Dynamique des ÉcosystĂ©mes, Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (FR), Plymouth Marine Laboratory (UK), Environmental Research Institute, University of the Highlands and Islands (UK), Deltares (NL), University of Plymouth (UK), Laboratoire d'OcĂ©anographie Physique et Spatiale, Institute of Research for Development (FR), Remote Sensing Solutions (USA), Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Southern Denmark (DK), European Commission, Joint Research Centre (IT), Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund (USA), Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California (USA), Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen (DK), Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (NOAA)(USA), Sezione di Oceanografia, Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale (IT), Department of Oceanography and Fisheries, University of the Azores (PT), Research Institute for Applied Mechanics, Kyushu University (JP), Applied Research Laboratory, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawaii (USA), P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences (RU), NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology (USA), CNR Institute of Marine Sciences (IT), Argans, Plymouth, United Kingdom, 28 Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science (USA), Mystic Seaport Program, Williams College (USA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)(USA), School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton (UK), College of Life and Environmental Science, University of Exeter (UK), eOdyn (FR), Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (USA), CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere (AUS), International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (DK), Stichting The Ocean Cleanup (NL) Department of Environment and Health, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (NL), Algalita Marine Research and Education, Long Beach (USA), Mace Geospatial, LLC (USA), Freestone Environmental Services (USA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (USA), Carl Sagan Center, SETI Institute (USA), COISPA Tecnologia and Ricerca (IT), Facultad Ciencias del Mar, Universidad CatĂłlica del Norte (CL), Oceanographic Institute, Universidade de SĂŁo Paulo (BR)
  • Received: 21.11.2018
  • Accepted: 05.07.2019
  • Published: 28.08.2019


Plastics and other artificial materials pose new risks to the health of the ocean. Anthropogenic debris travels across large distances and is ubiquitous in the water and on shorelines, yet, observations of its sources, composition, pathways, and distributions in the ocean are very sparse and inaccurate. Total amounts of plastics and other man-made debris in the ocean and on the shore, temporal trends in these amounts under exponentially increasing production, as well as degradation processes, vertical fluxes, and time scales are largely unknown. Present ocean circulation models are not able to accurately simulate drift of debris because of its complex hydrodynamics. In this paper we discuss the structure of the future integrated marine debris observing system (IMDOS) that is required to provide long-term monitoring of the state of this anthropogenic pollution and support operational activities to mitigate impacts on the ecosystem and on the safety of maritime activity. The proposed observing system integrates remote sensing and in situ observations. Also, models are used to optimize the design of the system and, in turn, they will be gradually improved using the products of the system. Remote sensing technologies will provide spatially coherent coverage and consistent surveying time series at local to global scale. Optical sensors, including high-resolution imaging, multi- and hyperspectral, fluorescence, and Raman technologies, as well as SAR will be used to measure different types of debris. They will be implemented in a variety of platforms, from hand-held tools to ship-, buoy-, aircraft-, and satellite-based sensors. A network of in situ observations, including reports from volunteers, citizen scientists and ships of opportunity, will be developed to provide data for calibration/validation of remote sensors and to monitor the spread of plastic pollution and other marine debris. IMDOS will interact with other observing systems monitoring physical, chemical, and biological processes in the ocean and on shorelines as well as the state of the ecosystem, maritime activities and safety, drift of sea ice, etc. The synthesized data will support innovative multi-disciplinary research and serve a diverse community of users.

  • Marine debris, Remote sensing, research methodology, Visual observation
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