Pacific Garbage Patch

What is the great pacific garbage patch?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also commonly referred to as the Pacific Trash Vortex, is an ocean gyre of marine debris located in the central North Pacific Ocean. This patch extends over an indeterminate area that has garnered estimates ranging widely depending upon the degree of plastic concentration used to define the affected area. As an ocean grye, the Pacific Garbage Patch is characterized as a large system of rotating ocean currents involved with large wind movements. In turn, these are tremendous-in-scale patches of floating garbage and debris that remain dormant in our world's oceans.

The patch is recognized by exceptionally high concentrations of pelagic plastics, debris and chemical sludge that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre. Despite the Great Pacific Garbage Patch's size and density, it is not visible from satellite photography because it consists primarily of suspended particulates located in the upper water column. A water column is a conceptual column of water from the surface to the very bottom-based sediments. Typically, a water column concept is used chiefly for environmental studies that evaluate the stratification or mixing of the thermal or chemically stratified layers in a lake, stream or ocean.

Predicted in a paper published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States in 1988, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch prophecy was based upon results that were obtained by several Alaska-based researchers between the years of 1985 and 1988. These researchers measured neustonic plastic in the North Pacific Ocean and found extremely high concentrations of marine debris that began accumulating in regions governed by ocean currents.

Although the size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch remains unknown, large items that are readily visible from a boat deck are found to be uncommon. Most debris consists of small plastic particles that are suspended at or just below the water's surface, which makes it nearly impossible to detect by any means of aircraft or satellite. Estimates of the size of the Garbage Patch have ranged from 270,000 square miles to 5,800,000 square miles, which has been deemed twice the size of the continental United States. However, such estimates remain conjectural given the complexities of sampling and the overall need to assess findings against other areas.