Media reports about marine pollution have tended to fixate on theidea of “great garbage patches”–huge floating islands of wastecirculating in the gyres of the major oceans. Outlets have often spoken of patches “twice the size of Texas” , giving the impression of trash blankets easily visible fromplanes or satellite. The reality, say scientists , is something less tangible, though no less alarming. Thetrash–most of it plastic–may not be easy to see. But it is there,suspended in tiny pieces, on the surface, and below the waves. Telescopic Boom Truck Crane
Andnew research indicates that the problem may even be worse thanpreviously understood. According to Giora Proskurowski , a project scientist at the University of Washington, what lies onthe top of oceans is only a fraction of what lies beneath. Onaverage, the next 100 feet below the waterline contains 2.5 timesthe plastic of what s on the surface, he says. And, when winds arereally churning up the water, there could be as much 27 times moreplastic in the water column. Articulated Boom Crane
When you take a surface measurement, you are only sampling a smallpercentage of what s integrated below. “When you take a surface measurement, you are only sampling a smallpercentage of what s integrated below,” he says. “With 20-knotwinds, say, there is a significant amount of turbulence, and thatwill mix up a large percentage of the top layer of plastics thatwere on the surface, and distribute them in the top 100 feet.” The finding, which is detailed in the journal Geophysical Research Letters , is important because it may show that previous research–whichdidn t account for winds pushing debris below the water–havesignificantly underestimated the amount of plastic in the oceans. “What we re saying is that, in addition to gathering the sample,you have to gather the environmental conditions about how you tookthe sample, because they are extremely important to how muchplastic is truly there,” Proskurowski says. Truck Mounted Crane Manufacturer
This is massive problem impacting millions of square miles of eachof the major oceans. Based on their work, Proskurowski and his colleagues plan topublish a “recipe” that other researchers can use to combine data,and gain more consistency. Hopefully, that should help dispel mythsabout marine plastics, while drawing attention to the true scope ofthe problem. “We don t need the hyperbole,” Proskurowski says.
“This is massiveproblem impacting millions of square miles of each of the majoroceans, and so there really isn t the need to exaggerate aboutbeing able to walk on something twice the size of Texas. That isjust noise that can come back to haunt you.”.