27th IUGG General Assembly. International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans (IAPSO). July 8-18, Montrael, Canada

Section P10 – Role of Ocean Processes in the Transport and Fate of Floating Plastic Litter in the Ocean and Shelf-Seas: Theory, Modelling and Observations
Convener: Erik van Sebille (Netherlands)
Co-Conveners: Kara Lavender Law (USA), Stefano Aliani (Italy), Nikolai Maximenko (USA)

After plastic debris enters the ocean, its distribution is to a large extent determined by the ocean circulation; in particular waves and currents. Knowing how and where marine debris is transported by the ocean is key to understanding its fate and impact on marine ecosystems.
Oceanographic phenomena that impact the transport and dispersion of buoyant marine debris occur on a large range of scales, from Stokes drift to Ekman convergence. The way that these different phenomena affect the dispersion of marine debris, and how this leads to the emergence of patchy accumulation regions and ‘hotspots’, is a major knowledge gap.
In this symposium, we invite presentations on advances in the theory and modelling, possibly supported by observations, of marine plastic debris of all sizes. Topics include but are not limited to:

  • The stirring of buoyant debris due to turbulence, in particular in the mixed layer;
  • The transport of plastic in coastal seas, from the surf zone to the open ocean;
  • The effects of Stokes drift, Langmuir circulation, and other (nonlinear) wind effects on the transport of debris;
  • The effects of fragmentation, degradation, bio-aggregation and biofouling on the evolution of the buoyancy of debris particles;
  • Development of and comparison between tools and software to simulate the dispersion of debris.