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Modelling the transportation of marine plastics over the ocean surface by Cellular Automata

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Miguel Morales MaquedaORCiD, Dr Kheng-Lim GohORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This article describes a novel Cellular Automata (CA) model to predict the transportation of buoyant marine plastics. The proposed CA model provides a simpler and more affordable approach to a field where the computationally intensive Lagrangian particle-tracking models dominate. The transportation of marine plastics was investigated using well-defined, probabilistic rules governing the advection and diffusion processes. The CA model was applied to evaluate the impact of two input scenarios, namely a “population” and a “river” scenario. Of the sub-tropical gyres, a high percentage of buoyant plastics were found in the Indian gyre (population: 5.0 %; river: 5.5 %) and North Pacific gyre (population: 5.5 %; river: 7 %). These findings show good agreement with previously published results from particle-tracking models. The CA model could be a useful rapid-scenario assessment tool for the estimation marine plastic pollution prior to more in-depth studies on effective mitigation measures to, for example, reduce plastics waste.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Peng Shu Ng, Morales Maqueda MA, Goh KL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Marine Pollution Bulletin

Year: 2023

Volume: 191

Print publication date: 01/06/2023

Online publication date: 03/05/2023

Acceptance date: 12/04/2023

Date deposited: 03/05/2023

ISSN (print): 0025-326X

ISSN (electronic): 1879-3363

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2023.114950


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Funder referenceFunder name
Global Engagement Fellowship 2020-2021 (Newcastle University)