Predictable pollution: an assessment of weather balloons and associated impacts on the marine environment - an example for the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

O'Shea, Owen R., Hamann, Mark, Smith, Walter, and Taylor, Heidi (2014) Predictable pollution: an assessment of weather balloons and associated impacts on the marine environment - an example for the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 79 (1-2). pp. 61-68.

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Abstract

Efforts to curb pollution in the marine environment are covered by national and international legislation, yet weather balloons are released into the environment with no salvage agenda. Here, we assess impacts associated with weather balloons in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA). We use modeling to assess the probability of ocean endpoints for released weather balloons and predict pathways post-release. In addition, we use 21 months of data from beach cleanup events to validate our results and assess the abundance and frequency of weather balloon fragments in the GBRWHA. We found between 65% and 70% of balloons land in the ocean and ocean currents largely determine final endpoints. Beach cleanup data revealed 2460 weather balloon fragments were recovered from 24 sites within the GBRWHA. This is the first attempt to quantify this problem and these data will add support to a much-needed mitigation strategy for weather balloon waste.

Item ID: 32945
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-3363
Keywords: beach cleaning, dispersal modeling, latex, pollution, marine debris
Funders: Australian Marine Debris Initiative, Australian Government's Caring for Our Country
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2014 09:37
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9610 Natural Hazards > 961002 Natural Hazards in Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 100%
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