Study Reveals that the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ is way Larger than Previously Estimated | The Size of France

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pacific garbage, great pacific garbage patch, Hawaii, california
A piece of floating debris snagged during an ocean sampling operation. Credit: Ocean Cleanup

The results of a study published last Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, reveal that world’s biggest collection of floating trash, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is actually 16 times larger than previously estimated and is still growing at what the researchers called an “exponential” pace.

pacific garbage, great pacific garbage patch, Hawaii, california
Researchers modeled the mass concentration of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which has grown to the size of France. Credit: Ocean Cleanup

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or GPGP for short, is an accumulation of junk that has collected in the waters between California and Hawaii. The concentration of floating plastic in the patch ranges from tens to hundreds of kilograms per square kilometer. The patch, which is adrift between Hawaii and California, was often compared to the size of Texas. But as it turns out, that estimate was a bit low, and now scientists are saying the trash heap could actually be the size of France.

The three-year study found that not only is the mass roughly comprised of 79,000 metric tons of plastic but it’s still growing. Even more troubling, the growth has been at an exponential rate. The majority of the trash consists of fishing nets, 46 percent of it, and much of the rest is related gear, the Nat Geo News explained.

pacific garbage, great pacific garbage patch, Hawaii, california
Plastic samples collected during a 2015 expedition by the Ocean Cleanup. Credit: Ocean Cleanup

Not that there is really any good news here, but on a positive note, an organization known as the Ocean Clean Up is already seeking to find a solution. The team of scientists, in conjunction with six universities and an aerial sensor company, started by first understanding the magnitude of the situation.

“To be able to solve a problem, we believe it is essential to first understand it. These results provide us with key data to develop and test our cleanup technology, but it also underlines the urgency of dealing with the plastic pollution problem,” said Boyan Slat founder and co-author of the study in a statement. “Since the results indicate that the amount of hazardous microplastics is set to increase more than tenfold if left to fragment, the time to start is now.”

Out in the stretch of these blue seas, so far from any human activity, there’s nothing out there, and we still leave traces as a society. So sad…

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