The good Pacific rubbish Patch is the largest buildup of ocean plastic in the world and is located in between Hawaii and also California. Researchers of The ocean Cleanup have carried out the many extensive analysis ever of this area.

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The great Pacific rubbish Patch (GPGP) is the biggest of the 5 offshore plastic accumulation zones in the world’s oceans. That is located halfway between Hawaii and California.



It is approximated that 1.15 to 2.41 million tonnes that plastic room entering the ocean each year from rivers. An ext than half of this plastic is less dense than the water, meaning that it will not sink as soon as it meet the sea.

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The stronger, more buoyant plastics present resiliency in the naval environment, permitting them to be transported over expanded distances. Castle persist in ~ the sea surface ar as they do their means offshore, transported by converging currents and finally accumulating in the patch.

Once this plastics go into the gyre, they room unlikely to leave the area till they degrade into smaller microplastics under the effects of sun, waves and marine life. As much more and an ext plastics are discarded right into the environment, microplastic concentration in the an excellent Pacific garbage Patch will certainly only continue to increase.


The GPGP covers an estimated surface area of 1.6 million square kilometers, one area twice the dimension of Texas or three times the size of France.

The an excellent Pacific rubbish Patch consists an approximated surface the 1.6 million square kilometers


To formulate this number, the team of researchers behind this research performed the most elaborate sampling an approach ever coordinated.

This contained a fleet of 30 boats, 652 surface nets and two flights end the patch to conference aerial imagery of the debris.

Sampling at various locations in ~ the exact same time period allowed a more accurate calculation of the size of the patch and the plastic drifting in it.


Due to seasonal and interannual variabilities the winds and currents, the GPGP’s location and also shape space constantly changing. Only floating objects that room predominantly affected by currents and less by winds were most likely to remain within the patch.

By simulating concentration levels in the north Pacific, the researchers were able to follow the location of the patch, demonstrating significant seasonal and interannual variations. On median the spot orbits approximately 32°N and also 145°W. However, the team it was observed seasonal shift from west to eastern and comprehensive variations in latitude (North come South) depending upon the year.

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The center of the GPGP has the highest possible density and also the further limits are the the very least dense. Once quantifying the massive of the GPGP, the team chose to account just for the denser center area. If the less-dense outer an ar was likewise considered in the total estimate, the full mass would certainly then it is in closer come 100,000 tonnes.

A total of 1.8 trillion plastic pieces were estimated to be floating in the patch – a plastic count that is indistinguishable to 250 piece of debris for every human being in the world.

Using a similar approach together they did once figuring the mass, the team chose to employ conservative estimations the the plastic count. While 1.8 trillion is a mid-range worth for the full count, their calculations estimated that it might be range from 1.1 to as much as 3.6 sunshine pieces.


Using data native multiple enlightenment missions, a fixed concentration version was developed to visualize the plastic circulation in the patch.

The massive concentration model, pictured below, shows how the concentration levels gradually decrease by orders of magnitude in the direction of the outside boundaries of the GPGP. The facility concentration level contain the highest density, reaching 100s that kg/km² when decreasing under to 10 kg/km² in the outermost region.

These outcomes prove that plastic contamination at sea, when densely dispersed within the patch, is scattered and does not form a heavy mass, thus demystifying the garbage island concept.


Vertical distribution

The s Cleanup measure up the vertical circulation of plastic during six expeditions in between 2013 come 2015. Outcomes from these expeditions proved the the buoyant plastic mass is spread within the top few meters of the ocean.,


Factors such as wind speed, sea state, and plastic buoyancy will influence vertical mixing. However, buoyant plastic will at some point float back to the surface ar in calmer seas. Larger pieces to be observed to resurface much more rapidly than smaller pieces.


Characteristics that the debris in the good Pacific garbage Patch, such together plastic type and age, prove that plastic has the capacity to persist in this region.

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Plastic in the patch has also been measured because the 1970’s and the calculations from succeeding years show that microplastic mass concentration is increasing significantly – proving that the entry of plastic in the patch is better than the output. Unless sources are mitigated, this number will continue to rise.