Saturday, March 20, 2010

Where we are and Where we’re going

20 March 25°15.91S,104°53.52E

There are still 2,000 miles and two weeks between us and Mauritius, with the Indian Ocean Gyre between us. We’re working with another scientist from the University of Hawaii, Nikolai Maximenko, who has developed a computer model which predicts where plastic pollution might collect in the world’s oceans.

To create his model he took information from 12,000 drift buoys, which have already been tracked around the world. He added what is known about currents and wind to the equation. On his map of the world, he released hypothetical drift buoys evenly across every point in the sea. Amazingly, the drift buoys migrated to the 5 gyres.

We’re using the Maximenko model to plan our route through the 5 gyres. We’ve already been through the North Pacific Gyre and North Atlantic Gyre. After 500 miles in the Indian Ocean Gyre, we’ve conducted two trawls. We found plastic in each one.


Lesson Extensions
Teachers- Here are links to more activities and lessons relating to the topics discussed above- Ocean Currents and Plastic Pollution

Here are links to two NOAA Flash presentations introducing ocean currents;

NOAA Ocean Currents Video/Flash Presentation (10min) A good introduction to ocean currents

NOAA Global Impacts of Ocean Currents Video/Flash Presentation (3 min) An explanation of how we depend on ocean urrents for survival and how our actions may impact the currents.

Click here to send a comment or question to the research crew!


Anonymous said...

I'm thrilled to hear more about your adventure! Reading things like this makes me want to step outside my house and get straight to recycling. With Nikolai Maximenko's collected data from the 12,000 buoys, i'm curious about whether you plan on recollecting the buoys or leave them wherever they may be. Also, what are the buoys mainly made of?

Toni Rose Roque
George Washington High School, Guam

Anonymous said...

hello, we are the 6 year 7 students from Radford college, Canberra, Australia.
our question for you is ' can you tell how long the rubbish has been siting there in the water? If so, how?

Thanks and good luck!!!