Temporal variability of marine debris deposition at Tern Island in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

Alyssa E Agustin, Mark A Merrifield, James T Potemra, Carey Morishige
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2015 December 15, 101 (1): 200-207
A twenty-two year record of marine debris collected on Tern Island is used to characterize the temporal variability of debris deposition at a coral atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Debris deposition tends to be episodic, without a significant relationship to local forcing processes associated with winds, sea level, waves, and proximity to the Subtropical Convergence Zone. The General NOAA Operational Modeling Environment is used to estimate likely debris pathways for Tern Island. The majority of modeled arrivals come from the northeast following prevailing trade winds and surface currents, with trajectories indicating the importance of the convergence zone, or garbage patch, in the North Pacific High region. Although debris deposition does not generally exhibit a significant seasonal cycle, some debris types contain considerable 3 cycle/yr variability that is coherent with wind and surface pressure over a broad region north of Tern.

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