SCOR Working Group 153

Floating Litter and its Oceanic TranSport Analysis and Modelling (FLOTSAM)

Neuston tow in the morning (Leslie Peate)

Plastics and other man-made debris enter the ocean by a variety of pathways, including beaches, rivers and waterways, but also as a result of natural disasters as storms, tsunamis, floods, losses during fishing activities, and accidental or illegal dumping from ships. Whatever its source, debris in the ocean is transported by ocean currents, waves, and wind.  The movement of litter of various size and buoyancy is difficult to predict because of poorly known near-surface currents and complex hydrodynamics of interaction of solid objects with these currents, waves, and wind. Furthermore, solid materials behave differently from oil spills or other liquid chemical contaminants. Litter in the ocean, from microplastics to large visible objects, is a major environmental concern because of the potential effects of these, often human-made, materials on individual marine organisms and the whole ecosystem. The purpose of this SCOR working group is to identify gaps in our knowledge of the processes that control the distribution and movement of ocean debris and suggest steps to improve the modeling and observation of these processes, including remote sensing with satellites.

Chair(s)
Stefano Aliani (Italy)
Vice-Chair(s)
Nikolai Maximenko (USA), Kara Lavender Law (USA), and Erik van Sebille (Netherlands)
Other Full Members
Bertrand Chapron (France), Irina Chubarenko (Russia), Atsuhiko Isobe (Japan), Victor Martinez-Vicente (UK), Peter Ryan (South Africa), Won Joon Shim (South Korea), and Martin Thiel (Chile)
Associate Members
Melanie Bergmann (Germany), Yi Chao (USA), Baylor Fox-Kemper (USA), Denise Hardesty (Australia), Tobias Kukulka (USA), Laurent Lebreton (New Zealand), Christophe Maes (France), and Miguel Morales Maqueda (UK)
Reporter
Paul G. Myers
Terms of Reference
  1. Identify gaps in our knowledge of the near-surface ocean dynamics that may affect litter distribution and transport.

  2. Improve future marine litter modelling capabilities.

  3. Evaluate existing and emerging remote sensing technologies that can be applied to marine litter in the open ocean.

  4. Improve awareness of the scientific understanding of marine debris, based on better observations and modelling results.

Approved
September 2017
Financial Sponsors
SCOR, NSF
Meetings
  1. 11 March 2018 in San Diego, California, USA

  2. 7-9 May 2019 in Utrecht, Netherlands

Group Website
http://scor-flotsam.it