University of Tasmania

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Is there a relationship between floating plastic accumulation and fronts over the continental shelf zone of Northeast US?

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 21:38 authored by Le, P, Andrew FischerAndrew Fischer, Britta HardestyBritta Hardesty, Heidi AumanHeidi Auman, Chris WilcoxChris Wilcox
Plastic pollution is one of the world’s most concerning issues, causing multiple threats to the marine environment, due to its potential impacts on biodiversity, communities, and ecosystem services. It is estimated that three-quarters of marine debris is plastic, with approximately 70 to 80% of floating plastic accumulating the coastal zones. Marine debris transport and concentrations are driven by water convergences (fronts) generated by oceanographic processes, such as wind stress curl, Ekman pumping and tidal mixing. The concentration of marine debris has been reported in gyres, eddies, tidal fronts, salinity fronts, and coastal fronts. This study explores the possibility of fronts as an indicator to detect marine floating litter along the continental shelf, an understudied area. We focused on the northeast coast of the USA in the North Atlantic. By understanding frontal activity and formation along with available in-situ floating plastic data set, we can predict how and where marine floating litter is distributed. We applied remote sensing to identify sea surface temperature (SST) fronts, with a 11-year period (2002 – 2012) MODIS SST data set. We use SST and compare this data to the Sea Education Association’s North Atlantic and Law et al. (2012) data set using surface plankton net tows from 2002 to 2012. We assess the relationship between frontal frequency and floating plastic debris in the continental shelf zone. Results highlight the need to consider continental shelf marine plastic hotspots, given these are areas of high biodiversity value around the globe.


Publication title

The 7th International Marine Debris Conference (7IMDC) Programme




Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies

Event title

The 7th International Marine Debris Conference (7IMDC)

Event Venue

Busan, Republic of Korea

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences