Concept for a hyperspectral remote sensing algorithm for floating marine macro plastics

Lonneke Goddijn-Murphy*, Steef Peters, Erik van Sebille, Neil A. James, Stuart Gibb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


There is growing global concern over the chemical, biological and ecological impact of plastics in the ocean. Remote sensing has the potential to provide long-term, global monitoring but for marine plastics it is still in its early stages. Some progress has been made in hyperspectral remote sensing of marine macroplastics in the visible (VIS) to short wave infrared (SWIR) spectrum. We present a reflectance model of sunlight interacting with a sea surface littered with macro plastics, based on geometrical optics and the spectral signatures of plastic and seawater. This is a first step towards the development of a remote sensing algorithm for marine plastic using light reflectance measurements in air. Our model takes the colour, transparency, reflectivity and shape of plastic litter into account. This concept model can aid the design of laboratory, field and Earth observation measurements in the VIS-SWIR spectrum and explain the results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-262
Number of pages8
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Marine environment
  • Plastic debris
  • Pollution
  • Remote sensing


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