LIFE

Scientists track Indian Ocean’s plastic

The Indian Ocean is the world’s biggest dumping ground for plastic waste, but where the trash ultimately ends up has remained a mystery, scientists say.

According to researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA), little research had been done to measure and track plastic waste in the Indian Ocean.

The team found that the unique characteristics of the southern Indian Ocean pushes floating plastics towards the western side of the ocean, where it leaks past South Africa into the South Atlantic Ocean.

“Because of the Asian monsoon system, the southeast trade winds in the southern Indian Ocean are stronger than the trade winds in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans,” said Mirjam van der Mheen, a PhD student at UWA.

In the northern Indian Ocean, the simulations showed that there may be an accumulation in the Bay of Bengal. It is also most likely that floating plastics will ultimately end up on beaches, transported by the reversing monsoon winds and currents, researchers said.

“Our study shows that the atmospheric and oceanic attributes of the Indian Ocean are different to other ocean basins and that there may not be a concentrated garbage patch,” said Mr. van der Mheen.

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