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​The hunt for plastic in the Arctic

We are very happy to announce that Akvaplan-niva has been awarded a 2 year project by the Norwegian Retailers’ Environment Fund (Handelens Miljøfond). This fund is the largest private environmental fund in Norway and it supports projects that reduce plastic waste, increase plastic recycling and reduce the consumption of plastic bags. 

The project called «Detecting, Identifying and Mapping plastic in the Arctic using robotics and digital solutions (DIMARC)» will use an autonomous unmanned robot, a Wave Glider, and digital solutions involving machine learning approach for data analysis to detect, identify and map plastic litter offshore and onshore in the Norwegian Arctic.

Additionally, we will be developing a remote sensing methodology taking advantage of high definition satellite pictures and aerial drones to detect lost fishing nets stranded on the shore. These so called «ghost nets» are  known for catching and killing animals such as deers, bears, seals, birds etc. The team will also study the drift of plastic in the Arctic using a high resolution ocean model called FVCOM using different scenarios. 

The results from the project will be communicated to local communities to assist them in cleaning their shores, and to students for educational purposes. Partners are Maritime Robotics, IFREMER (France), SALT, TerraNor and UiT the Arctic University of Norway.

Figure: Example of analysis of plastic debris from drone pictures using segmentation techniques with a machine learning approach