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Mar Pollut Bull. 2012 Mar;64(3):653-61. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2011.10.027. Epub 2012 Jan 20.

Numerical modelling of floating debris in the world's oceans.

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ASR Limited Martine Consulting and Research, 1 Wainui Road, Raglan, New Zealand.


A global ocean circulation model is coupled to a Lagrangian particle tracking model to simulate 30 years of input, transport and accumulation of floating debris in the world ocean. Using both terrestrial and maritime inputs, the modelling results clearly show the formation of five accumulation zones in the subtropical latitudes of the major ocean basins. The relative size and concentration of each clearly illustrate the dominance of the accumulation zones in the northern hemisphere, while smaller seas surrounded by densely populated areas are also shown to have a high concentration of floating debris. We also determine the relative contribution of different source regions to the total amount of material in a particular accumulation zone. This study provides a framework for describing the transport, distribution and accumulation of floating marine debris and can be continuously updated and adapted to assess scenarios reflecting changes in the production and disposal of plastic worldwide.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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