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SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer

April 27, 2016

Marine Plastics Study Gets Noticed by Environmental Journal

Doug Karlson, communications@sea.edu

SEA Semester

Research Professor of Oceanography Dr. Kara Lavender Law

It’s been well reported in this blog and elsewhere: vast quantities of plastic and microplastic debris (pieces smaller than 5 mm) have been observed and sampled in oceans around the world.  But accurately measuring it, on a global scale, is still a major challenge. 

SEA’s Dr. Kara Lavender Law, Research Professor of Oceanography, is doing just that. Working with colleagues at other institutions, she’s employing a rigorous statistical approach to standardize a global dataset and thus better estimate the size and scope of the problem – and gauge the danger it poses to marine life.

Last year, Law co-authored an article on the topic, “A global inventory of small floating plastic debris.”  Editors of the prestigious Environmental Research Letters (ERL) – which publishes articles on diverse environmental topics ranging from the Volkswagen emissions scandal to food production in Sub-Saharan Africa -  recently chose that article to include in its “Highlights of 2015.”  The winning entries were selected on the basis of referee endorsement, novelty, scientific impact and breadth of appeal.

“We’re thrilled that this work was highlighted by ERL,” said Law. “Our results not only indicate that the amount of floating microplastics in the global ocean is greater than previously estimated, but they also point out the most understudied regions of the ocean for plastic debris.  Some of these regions are now being sampled by SEA Semester students and scientists on our new cruise tracks in the South Pacific and eastern North Atlantic, and we look forward to seeing what those data uncover about the extent of this pollution problem.”

Congratulations to Dr. Law and her colleagues!  Click here to read the article.

Categories: News, • Topics: research  plastics  research at sea • (0) Comments
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