Research project


Thematic area

Earth system science and environmental technologies

Project area

Osservazione della Terra (DTA.AD004)

Structure responsible for the research project

Marine science institute (ISMAR)

Project manager

Phone number: 0187 1788900


"There is high interest in identifying potential hotspots for litter accumulation. Subtropical garbage patches have outstanding concentrations of marine litter (ML), but they still have lower concentration than other accumulations. An example of ephemeral hotspots are windrows, sub-mesoscale fronts and other forms of water circulation in the upper layer of the oceThe project "EO Track for Marine Litter in the Mediterranean Sea" has proved that Sentinel-2 can detect and report on presence of those accumulations as proxies. These occurrences have combinations of ML and usually other organic debris, but recent investigations have shown they have significant higher ML concentrations with respect the general levels of a given basin.
We propose to exploit the recently developed prototype Sentinel-2 Marine Litter Data Processor and check its capability for monitoring purposes. The main task of this activity will be running the processor for the entire archive of S-2A/B images over the entire Mediterranean Sea, including Portugal, Cantabric Sea and Gulf of Biscay coastal areas.


The goals of the study will be: (1) construct a map of occurrence of these accumulation zones within the depicted region; (2) analyse their seasonal patterns (if any) and their correlation with possible drivers (rainfall, wind direction and intensity, river output, etc); (3) test the capability of Sentinel-2 and the data processor to anticipate areas for potential environmental monitoring and cleaning action. The idea will benefit of collaborations with local to regional initiatives exploring cleaning action at sea, and if possible, a verification campaign could also be carried out with their collaboration.

Start date of activity



Marine litter, Remote sensing

Last update: 03/12/2023