M.S. Thesis: The Garbage Patch in the Oceans: The Problem and Possible Solutions

By Marzia Sesini

Advisors: Louise Rosen, Professor Nickolas J. Themelis, Professor Marco J. Castaldi, Columbia University

Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering
Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Science
Columbia University

August 2011

A study was conducted to assess the size and impact of a Garbage Patch in the Oceans. The findings from the study were compiled from a combination of mathematical and physical models estimates and data from expeditions (Table 1).

The primary findings are:

  • There are potentially five Garbage Patches scattered globally, located in the North and South Pacific Ocean; North and South Atlantic Ocean; and Indian Ocean.
  • The total amount of plastic garbage estimated is 36,000 ton, unequally dispersed. The data results in 9,064 ton of garbage plastic in the North Atlantic and 20,240 ton in North Pacific.
  • The model estimation results in 2,590 ton of marine plastic debris in the South Atlantic Ocean, 2,860 ton in the South Pacific Ocean, and 2,185 ton in the Indian Ocean, which are in alignment with the data.

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