As phytoplankton in the centre of the gyre
grow then sink, they remove carbon from the surface of the ocean, causing an uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere - a process known as the 'biological carbon pump'.
There are five major gyres
: the North and South Pacific Subtropical Gyres
, the North and South Atlantic Subtropical Gyres
, and the Indian Ocean Subtropical Gyre
Some water does flow predictably between the gyres
, but it's a slow process.
"Solving the problem of plastic pollution demands innovation," said Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, 5 Gyres
are instead speckled with tiny plastic bits smaller than grains of rice, as many as 100,000 per square kilometer.
"The North Atlantic gyre
brings plastic waste to the coast of Pembrokeshire from as far away as North America, a similar fate occurs in Kuruwitu, on the east coast of Kenya, with the Indian Ocean gyre
bringing plastic debris from the whole of southern and eastern Asia."
To get a more accurate scope, Slat contacted professors at the Universities of Delft, Utrecht, and Hawaii to come up with scientific estimates of how much extractable plastic there were at the top levels of the gyres
. The result was determined to be a staggering 7.25 million tons by 2020, which was described to be the weight of a thousand Eiffel Towers.
"We chose the islands because they are representative of pollution in the gyres
, but serve as a barrier to trash," a spokeswoman for the foundation backing the expedition, Race for Water, told dpa.
Marcus Eriksen is the Research Director and co-founder of the 5 Gyres
The latest multinational research, led by the Five Gyres
Institute in Los Angeles and published by PLOS One in December 2014, estimates more than 5.25 trillion individual pieces of plastic are present in the world's oceans at all depths in all corners of the globe.
Chapman demurs from our fouling our own nest, but that's just what we are doing: witness the five plastic-littered gyres
in the ocean and the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
The study was conducted by Marcus Eriksen of the Five Gyres
Institute in Los Angeles who derived the data derived from 24 separate ocean expeditions between 2007 and 2013, to sample plastic pollution.