Marine Debris Indicators: What’s Next?

An IEEE OES event
16-18 December 2019 – Brest, FRANCE

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IEEE OES Initiative
Cascais 2020 Workshop
Oceans 2019 Town Hall
Brest 2018 Workshop


Marine debris pose a mounting threat to life in the oceans and on land, including human life, and technologies to observe, measure and monitor the flow of debris into, and within, the oceans are urgently needed in support of mitigating the threat.

The Coastal Built Environment: A source of Current and Future Marine Debris?

Kelly Jones (1), Dan Martin(1), Dr. Hans-Peter Plag(1,2)

(1) Department of Ocean and Earth Science, Old Dominion University (2) Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute, Old Dominion University

The coastal urban environment is rapidly growing. In the last century, coastal settlements have grown over a thousand times in population. The coastal population alone is expected to increase to 6 billion people by 2025. There are 33 mega-cities (1,000,000 or more) and 21 of them are located in coastal areas. Currently, worldwide there are more than 1 million people living 1 m or less below sea level (Kok et al., 2007). This rapid growth in population and urban sprawl also led to a rapid growth in construction, built material, and consumer goods in the coastal zones. Not only are people moving closer to the ocean, but the anthropogenically produced chemical materials are moving with them. Material resource extraction increased 60% since 1980 and a total of 448 million tons of plastic were produced in 2015. Material production is projected to reach 100 Gt per year by 2030. Given a 1 to 1 ratio of person to material, 35% of all people living near coastlines means that 35% of this material production will be within 60 miles of the shore. These trends are expected to continue and potentially increase in the future. This poses a potentially global catastrophic risk (GCR) to both the urban coast and the ocean. The expanding coastal population and the growing built environment are exposed to a changing spectrum of natural hazards. The ocean is vulnerable to changes in the biogeochemical cycles and coastal disasters contribute to the flows of plastics, rubber, and other litter into the ocean. Among others, the urban coasts are exposed to increasing flooding and inundation as sea-level continues to rise, tropical cyclones and other storms that are expected to increase with climate change, and tsunamis. It is expected that the growth of the urban environment will continue and this will worsen the GCR. Governance and reduction of this risk requires a fundamental rethinking of the design of the urban coast. The governance process needs to be informed by scientific knowledge based on scenario-based studies of the impacts of natural hazards on the current and future coastal zones.

Type of contribution: Poster.

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