Due to vastness of the world’s oceans and the extent of coastline to be examined, a large marine litter patch (multiple square meters) remains relatively small and therefore difficult to determine from orbit. Despite this, through inspection of multiple Sentinel 2 images, novel techniques were used to establish the feasibility of observing floating plastic litter from orbit. Multiple remote sensing techniques were applied to multispectral data in an attempt to establish a radiometric signature, unique to floating ocean plastics.
The unique radiometric signature of floating plastic targets was determined by examining each of the 13 spectral bands provided by the on-board Multispectral Instrument (MSI), ranging from the visible to the shortwave Infrared (SWIR). These targets have enabled the development of a semi-robust litter signal, which is hoped to formulate the baseline for a new Earth Observation (EO) Marine Litter processor, capable of routinely identifying and tracking Marine Litter targets in coastal waters.