Towards a Holistic Understanding of the Microplastic Menace - the NOAA NCEI Global Marine Microplastic Database Initiative

Analyzing Microplastics in the Environment: Striving to Better Assess Occurrence, Fate and Effects
Oral Presentation

Prepared by E. Nyadjro1, T. Boyer2, S. Cross2, Z. Wang1, J. Cebrian1
1 - Mississippi State University, Stennis Space Center, Stennis Space Center, MS, 39529, United States
2 - NOAA NCEI, , , United States


Contact Information: esn31@msstate.edu; 228-688-1185


ABSTRACT

Marine microplastics (< 5 mm) pollution is a growing problem affecting coastal communities, marine ecosystems, aquatic and marine life, and human health. It is hard to escape news of debris of all kinds, and more specifically plastic debris of all sizes, in our oceans. Despite the growing awareness, data management of measurements of marine debris, from large size visual surveys along the coast and in the open ocean, to effects of microplastics on planktonic communities, lags far behind the needs of the scientific, education, and decision maker communities. This lack of large-scale, long-term, comprehensive data on microplastics makes it difficult to completely understand the sources, distribution and impacts of microplastics. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), the nation’s environmental data steward, is spearheading efforts to make available global data on microplastics. NCEI is currently collating (micro)plastic data from across the world and inputting this into a database. The goal is to develop a one-stop repository where data on all types of marine debris and microplastics are aggregated, archived, and served in a consistent and reliable manner. This will establish NCEI as the primary location for marine debris data management. The database, when completed, hopes to contain extensive information on global microplastics. Together with other NCEI databases, such as the Global Ocean Current Database, World Ocean Database, and the Surface Underway Marine Database etc., researchers and interest groups will be able to access and assess data that will enable new insights in understanding of the global microplastic problems. The microplastic database will be freely accessible and will be maintained with newly received data from global users.