Emerging Technologies for Remote Sensing of Floating and Submerged Plastic Litter

Lonneke Goddijn-Murphy, Victor Martinez-Vicente, Heidi m. Dierssen, Valentina Raimondi, Erio Gandini, Robert Foster, Ved Chirayath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most advances in the remote sensing of floating marine plastic litter have been made using passive remote-sensing techniques in the visible (VIS) to short-wave-infrared (SWIR) parts of the electromagnetic spectrum based on the spectral absorption features of plastic surfaces. In this paper, we present developments of new and emerging remote-sensing technologies of marine plastic litter such as passive techniques: fluid lensing, multi-angle polarimetry, and thermal infrared sensing (TIS); and active techniques: light detection and ranging (LiDAR), multispectral imaging detection and active reflectance (MiDAR), and radio detection and ranging (RADAR). Our review of the detection capabilities and limitations of the different sensing technologies shows that each has their own weaknesses and strengths, and that there is not one single sensing technique that applies to all kinds of marine litter under every different condition in the aquatic environment. Rather, we should focus on the synergy between different technologies to detect marine plastic litter and potentially the use of proxies to estimate its presence. Therefore, in addition to further developing remote-sensing techniques, more research is needed in the composition of marine litter and the relationships between marine plastic litter and their proxies. In this paper, we propose a common vocabulary to help the community to translate concepts among different disciplines and techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1770
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2024


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