Tracking Ocean Microplastics With Satellites

Satellite-driven tracking of ocean microplastics generates more data in one day than does data collected in 20 years via more traditional measurement methods. Here, researchers used NASA Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System to source data for analysis and learned that CYGNSS-tracked patterns of surfactants are likely to correlate with patterns of microplastics in the ocean.

“We can see the relationship between surface roughness and the presence of microplastics and surfactants,” said Yulin Pan , U-M naval architecture and marine engineering assistant professor. “The goal now is to understand the precise relationship between the three variables.”