Watch the ocean’s five islands of garbage form over the last 35 years

“NASA sought to visualize the so-called ‘ocean garbage patches’ using data collected over 35 years in partnership with NOAA. The result is simply mesmerizing.”

Or terrifying.

via NASA:

We wanted to see if we could visualize the so-called ocean garbage patches. We start with data from floating, scientific buoys that NOAA has been distributing in the oceans for the last 35-year represented here as white dots. Let’s speed up time to see where the buoys go… Since new buoys are continually released, it’s hard to tell where older buoys move to. Let’s clear the map and add the starting locations of all the buoys… Interesting patterns appear all over the place. Lines of buoys are due to ships and planes that released buoys periodically. If we let all of the buoys go at the same time, we can observe buoy migration patterns. The number of buoys decreases because some buoys don’t last as long as others. The buoys migrate to 5 known gyres also called ocean garbage patches.

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h/t Sploid.