Monday, February 15, 2016

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Twice the size of Texas, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch stretches hundreds of miles across the northern portion of the Pacific Ocean and serves as one of the most alarming examples of just how humans are violating this planet. Comparatively speaking, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch poses as equally, if not more destructive than ocean acidification due to the unknown devastation of sunken debris. Also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex, the patch is comprised of a Western Garbage Patch that originates near Japan, as well as an Eastern Garbage Patch located in between the United States and Hawaii. The areas of spinning debris are connected by the North Pacific Convergence Zone which creates what would be similar to a flowing highway passing back and forth from both patches. The entire Great Pacific Garbage patch is linked together by the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, which is a system of circular ocean currents formed by the earth’s wind patterns and the forces created by the rotation of the planet. The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre is created by the interaction of the California, North Equatorial, Kuroshiro, and North Pacific currents. The marine debris left at a stand still trapped between the flow of the currents has no means of escaping, leaving a negative impression on the surrounding biodiversity. Reigning havoc down to even microscopic levels, humans are often blinded by the negative externalities of plastic waste in the ocean and will often place more concern into matters such as acidification. One solution to cleaning up the multi-million dollar landfill is basically creating vacuum tubes that will run for miles to bring the plastic back to land. Mapping can be an affective tool to measure the flow of the currents carrying the patch and to decide where to place the vacuum tubes to intercept the cycling trash. Below is a map of the currents. 

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not.

·         NRDC. Solutions to our Plastic Problem in our Oceans. National Resources Defense Council. 8 March 2014. p. NA


  1. Shocking to hear that it is twice the size of Texas! I wonder how they plan to avoid damaging (or if they do) all the wildlife in the ocean. Maybe they could also add concentrations of flora and fauna to avoid putting the tubes there? Also, where would they put all the trash once in land? Would they try to recycle it?

  2. I wonder if the locations of the trash can also teach us more about Pacific currents. If it were possible to trace pieces of trash back to their origins perhaps we could have a better understanding of the movements of the currents and thus the movement of sea life that rides the currents.