The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Topics: Pacific Ocean, Ocean / Pages: 6 (1480 words) / Published: Mar 13th, 2014
Oceanography
11/29/12
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch The North Pacific Ocean is home to the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. This gyre is created by the North Pacific Current, the California Current, the North Equatorial Current, and the Kuroshio Current, all rotating clockwise throughout the northern hemisphere. It expands over the Pacific from the North Pole to the Equator and from California to Eastern Asia. The NPSG currents create the largest ecosystem on Earth, but they have also created one of the biggest threats to the health of our ocean: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The currents are constantly moving and circulating animals and minerals throughout the ocean, but they also trap and carry pieces and particles of trash that have been disposed of in the water or on shorelines. The trash is all carried to the same place where the convergence of currents forces the trash into the center of the gyre. The result of years and years of this process has collected enough trash to qualify the GPGP as the planet’s largest landfill. In the last 40 years, it is said that the amount of trash in the GPGP has increased 100-fold. The trash resides somewhere between 135° to 155° W and 35° to 42° N in a constant swirl within the currents. Because of this, it has been nicknamed the “trash vortex.” The majority of the trash in the GPGP is floating pieces of plastic. Of the more than 200 billion pounds of plastic produced each year on Earth, approximately 10% ends up in the ocean. Plastic will never biodegrade, but rather it photodegrades. Any piece of plastic thrown into the ocean will break into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic without breaking into simpler compounds. Plastics are also able to absorb and trap toxic chemicals whenever they come in contact. The majority of life-forms found in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre are microbial organisms, plankton and few other small sea creatures. Plastic that photodegrades into microscopic pieces is ingested by



Bibliography: Los Angeles Times – “Plague of Plastic Chokes the Seas” Aug. 7, 2007 http://www.latimes.com/news/la-me-ocean2aug02,0,4917201.story NOAA official site – “Marine Debris” July 19, 2012 http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/info/pdf/mdppatch.pdf NOAA official site – “Demystifying the Great Garbage Patch” July 19, 2102 http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/info/patch.html#5 World News by NBC News – “Study: Plastic in ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ increases 100-fold” May 9, 2012 http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/05/09/11612593-study-plastic-in-great-pacific-garbage-patch-increases-100-fold?lite

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
  • Great Pacific Garbage Patch
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Informa
  • Summary: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
  • Great Pacific Garbage Patch Research Paper