The research team focuses on the tracking of plastic litter using artificial plastic targets
The wide spread of plastics threatens to put a "bomb" in the foundations of our ecosystem and our lives, turning a breakthrough into a nightmare. Single-use plastic is mainly blamed for this situation, and just a few weeks ago, the European Commission proposed new EU-wide rules, targeting 10 disposable plastic products in an effort to reduce marine litter. The PLASTIC LITTER PROJECT 2018 is an initiative undertaken by the University of the Aegean, Department of Marine Sciences, Marine Remote Sensing Group in order to detect and quantify plastic waste on the surface of the Aegean Sea.
The innovative experiment took place on Thursday, June 7th at the ‘Tsamakia beach’ in the island of Lesvos, Greece, and was dedicated to the Word Environment Day, 5th June. Three 10 x 10 m wide floating artificial targets, containing 3,600 1.5 liter plastic bottles of water, 185 plastic disposable bags and 200 square meters of fishing nets respectively, were placed in the coastal area. The targets’ frames, created by undergraduate students from the Department of Marine Studies, were a 20 inch PVC pipe covered with plastic net to which the contents of each target were attached.
Four satellites (Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2, TerraSAR-X and WorldView-3) collected data over the experiment area by capturing the plastics in many different ways (in multiple wavelengths and different spatial analyses). At the same time, four drones were used to precisely map the position and density of the plastics in specific spectral ranges (visible, infrared and thermal). In addition, aerial photographs were collected from a light aircraft flying at an average height.
The aim of the project was to remotely locate large masses of plastic waste on the surface of the sea, allowing for targeted and effective intervention for their removal. The collected satellite data will be the primary material for the creation of remote detection algorithms, while the inter-comparison between data from satellites and UAVs will highlight the advantages and disadvantages of the detecting systems.
20 out of 120 lines of plastic bottles are ready to be used...
Photo source: Research Gate
Photo source: Greek Reporter