Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date


Faculty Advisor(s)

Hesham el-Askary


Through the use of remote sensing, we are able to determine the approximate location of the garbage patch in the North Pacific Gyre. Though remote sensing does not penetrate the surface of the ocean, monthly satellite images can be analyzed to determine the rate of growth or rate of decrease of certain parameters, such as atmospheric gases, phytoplankton, and dissolved organic matter. Over the past decade, data from the Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (Giovanni program) has shown a significant increase in dissolved organic matter and chlorophyll a content in the area of the North Pacific Garbage Patch (180-110° W, 40-45°N) (Bograd, DiLorenzo). The areas with increased chlorophyll are likely to show the regional location of the subject area (Villareal). By using laboratory techniques, we will be able to determine whether the presence of plastic effects the growth of phytoplankton and diatoms in the area.

The research conducted will study the effects of plastic on algae growth, focusing on the diatoms, Thalassiosira, which are found in the North Pacific Gyre. The question is whether algae increase is due to plastic, or the visibility through remote sensing is increased due to the algae using plastic as a substrate. The focus on the effects of plastic on algae will be directed under normal Pacific Ocean conditions; however, without the upwelling and currents seen in the area.


Presented at the Fall 2014 Undergraduate Student Research Day at Chapman University.