SCOR Working Group 153:
Floating Litter and its Oceanic TranSport Analysis and Modelling (FLOTSAM)


In September 2017, the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research, with financial assistance of the National Science Foundation, approved and created the Working Group #153 on Floating Litter and its Oceanic TranSport Analysis and Modelling (FLOTSAM)

Terms of Reference

The terms of reference for SCOR WG 153 are:

Gaps that will be explored will include, but not be limited to, improved mixed layer parameterizations and refined vertical and time resolution of ocean circulation models, inclusion of high-frequency processes and their non-linear interactions (Stokes drift, inertial oscillations, and diurnal cycle in the upper-ocean stratification). The WG will address the absence of data on critical parameters (e.g., fluxes) that are needed to support next-generation models, as well as the shortage in observations of surface currents (remote or in situ) that could help calibrate/validate models. We will also discuss marine litter parameters that can characterize non-homogenous distribution and behaviour, floating lifetime, settling, fragmentation, degradation, and ingestion by marine life that can increase the power of debris drift modelling. The results of WG discussions will be presented in a synthetic paper in an open-access, peer-reviewed journal publication.
The group will select a set of software and computing platforms (e.g., Python, R, Matlab, Ferret etc.) and models (MITgcm, MOM, POM, NEMO, ROMS, etc.) in order to identify a platform to lead the development of new tracking tools, taking into account the very rapid development of ultra-fine-resolution global ocean hydrodynamics simulations (which will reach 1/60o global resolution within the foreseeable future). The group will then agree on a common set of model metrics and diagnostics required to evaluate model performance, as well as a reference database from the observations. Platform leaders will be responsible for writing the code, which will be tested against a common model. Open-source scripts and codes will be made available to the ocean science community.
The working group will identify parameters important for understanding and modeling of the dynamics of marine litter that can be derived from variables measured by present satellite missions and from emerging remote sensing technologies. Inter-calibration of remote and in situ observations will be discussed in the context of a consolidated marine debris observing system.
The working group will aim to advance awareness on the topic through open sessions at scientific meetings and through the WG webpage. Open access scientific papers will be delivered as well as outreach actions through the media.



The background statement from the original SCOR WG proposal details the motivation and goals of the SCOR-FLOTSAM Working Group.


Our first meeting was on 11 March 2018 in San Diego, California, USA. Our second one was on 7-9 May 2019 in Utrecht, Netherlands. Our third meeting, likely in first half 2020, is currently being planned.


List of resources and publications from the SCOR-FLOTSAM Working Group.