The Pacific’s Floating “Plastic Continents” Will Soon Wash Up On Our Shorelines

Homo sapiens is the worlds strangest species. Although its capable of some genuinely wonderful things, its also great at tearing countries around the world apart. A perfect instance of the latter “wouldve been” genuinely gargantuan mass of plastic floating around in the worlds oceans. One, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, could be up to twice the size of the continental United States .

This floating wasteland, which will take around 450 years to degrade, was long thought to be a mass that would stay in the oceans, slowly accumulating human junk and increasing in sizing and density. A new survey in the publication Geophysical Research Letters reveals that these patches have a so-called exit doorway, and that currents will slowly move these plastic continents towards the western coastlines of South America.

Using cutting-edge computer simulations based on high-resolution ocean current data, the team constructed virtual models of the enormous plastic continents in the Pacific Ocean. The trajectories of millions of particles of plastic were calculated, and it revealed that currents, many hundreds of kilometers wide, were removing plastic from the hearts of the vortices and propelling it eastwards instead.

Ultimately, the litter will collide with the coasts of Chile and Peru. This could mean that a large chunk of the 12. 7 billion kilograms( 28 billion pounds) of plastic that we dump into the oceans every single year could start piling up on our shores.

The contamination of the marine surrounding by plastic litter seems as a growing and global problem, with all ocean basins being now contaminated, the authors, led by Christophe Maes of the France-based National Center for Scientific Research, write in their study.

Discovering these exit doorways is a welcome addition to our oceanographic knowledge, but as the researchers point out, more modelling, more observations of currents are required to understand better the ocean surface currents and, eventually, to develop marine debris collecting strategies at the scale of these[ plastic] convergence zones.

Due to a combination of gales and the Coriolis Effect( the force that oceanic and atmospheric currents experience due to the Earths rotation ), massive vortices exist in the North and South Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and across the entire Indian Ocean. Thanks to these vortices, our plastic a buoyant, poorly degradable material get stuck at these five places, and for long periods of hour remain there, out of sight and out of mind.

This research indicates that these vortices are concealing currents that are beginning to send our own rubbish back to us. Clearly, he take-home message from such studies is that we must act now to stop generating so much plastic.

As useful as it is, most of it is currently biodegradable on a timeline of decades to centuries. This is bad news for the environment. As a marker of how quickly we are destroying the environment, geologists have confirmed that a new stone sort made of sediments and plastic so-called plastiglomerates now exists.

Even if the current plastic continents are left unseen by most, their effects on our health are becoming increasingly clear. Fish are starting to eat some of this plastic and we, of course, feed these fish. This necessitates were feeing plastic.

They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind.

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