Wind Direction’s Role in Beach Marine Debris Accumulation

As I have observed the plastic litter, marine debris literature, I have noticed that west coast beaches seem to have a much greater problem than east coast beaches. This non-scientific observation is just based on the number of tweets, blog posts and articles that I have read in the past 6 months or so.

This got me wondering, so I decided to check out my impression:

  1. I wanted to confirm my impression by seeing how many Google links I got when I queried California marine debris (1,070,000) versus New Jersey marine debris (165,000). While not really apples to apples, it does show that California marine debris gets a lot more attention than NJ marine debris.
  2. Next, I wanted to check out the potential role of wind direction. California probably gets more on-shore wind than New Jersey. On-shore wind would tend to “blow” floatable marine debris back onto beaches. Here are my results:


It makes sense that California has a greater incidence of beach marine debris than New Jersey based on wind direction. It’s not that the east coast has less marine debris, it’s just that it doesn’t show up on east coast beaches as much because of predominate wind direction.

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