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WEBCAST: From Sea to See -- How Satellites Can Help Identify and Combat Plastic Marine Debris

Date & Time

Feb. 10, 2021
9:00am – 10:15am ET
This event will be webcast live

WEBCAST: From Sea to See -- How Satellites Can Help Identify and Combat Plastic Marine Debris

Charles Moore first discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 1997. Since then, scientists have identified a total of five enormous ocean gyres. These large rotating ocean currents entrain and accumulate floating plastic debris from coastlines and estuaries around the world and are now believed to contain 100 times more plastic than originally estimated.   

A recent Pew Charitable Trusts and Duke University report estimated that under a business-as-usual scenario, by 2040 plastic pollution entering the ocean will triple from about 11 to 29 million metric tons each year. To visualize the yearly scale, imagine 110 pounds of plastic waste piled on every meter of coastline around the world. 

The plastic leakage problem is big, but most statistics on plastic pollution in the ocean are based on theoretical estimates or fragmented sources rather than observed data. Analyses from plastic industry and scientific literature vary greatly, resulting in large uncertainties and frequent inconsistencies on the scale and flow of plastic pollution. Understanding the true extent of plastic pollution and its impacts requires reliable and scalable ways of collecting data. 

At this meeting, our three speakers — Ellen Ramirez (NOAA), Lauren Bierman (Plymouth Marine Laboratory), and Fabien Laurier (Minderoo Foundation) — are members of the technical committee responsible for guiding the development of the Minderoo Foundation-supported Global Plastics Watch platform. They will share their stories and discuss their work to harness the latest advances in remote sensing satellites and artificial intelligence to enable continuous, near real-time global monitoring of plastic pollution on land and at sea, as well as the impact this work and similar initiatives could have in the fight to reduce plastic marine debris.


Please send questions to @WilsonCEF and/or

This meeting is part of the Turning the Tide on Plastic in Asia project, co-led by the China Environment Forum and Institute of Developing Economies. Made possible with support from the Japan Foundation’s Center for Global Partnership.

Hosted By

China Environment Forum

Since 1997, the China Environment Forum's mission has been to forge U.S.-China cooperation on energy, environment, and sustainable development challenges. We play a unique nonpartisan role in creating multi-stakeholder dialogues around these issues.  Read more

Science and Technology Innovation Program

The Science and Technology Innovation Program (STIP) brings foresight to the frontier. Our experts explore emerging technologies through vital conversations, making science policy accessible to everyone.  Read more