Published on 26 March 2020
Until recently, the exploitation of Earth Observation in the marine domain was somewhat limited, due to poor spatial resolutions and long revisit times, often extending to months or years— today, Copernicus Sentinel data and the development of multispectral techniques are bringing significant advantages in monitoring marine debris.
Floating marine debris has become a pervasive, global and increasingly critical problem, threatening wildlife and human activities throughout oceans, while creating headlines across the world.
Floating plastic target off Tsamakia Beach, Greece — Source: Sentinel Online
The remote observation of some floating debris is a promising tool for monitoring, but still presents a high degree of complexity given the different characteristics and size of debris, the reflective nature of the sea surface, cloud cover in the marine environment and the nature of marine circulation aggregating and dispersing debris. Aerial photography and ship surveys are very costly, and thus usually restricted to once a year, at most.