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Marine Litter

Project Overview

Introducing an innovative approach to detecting Marine Litter in coastal waters around the world. The EO Tracking of Marine Debris in the Mediterranean Sea project utilises high resolution earth observation data to detect floating debris in the marine environmentThis European based consortium will lead the development of this cutting edge technology. Using a debris detection processor developed by the consortium to analyse Sentinel-2 images, they can detect rafts of litter and vegetation floating on the sea surface.  

Marine debris has been an issue for many years, but as the use of plastic continues to increase, marine debris is beginning to affect the marine environment in extremely detrimental ways. Understanding where and how debris travels once it has entered the marine environment is crucial knowledge to mitigate the environmental and negative socioeconomic effects of widespread marine debris.

Approximately 5-10% of all of the world’s plastic can be found in the Mediterranean Sea, which is roughly 5-30 thousand tonnes of plastic (Suaria et al, 2016) and as ESAs Sentinel-2 satellite provides full coverage of the basin, it makes the Mediterranean Sea a prime location to develop and train a processor that can detect debris from space.  

Learn more about marine litter here.

Plastic Problem

Monitoring plastic in the Mediterranean Sea 

European Consortium

Engaging with scientists and end users alike from across Europe to develop this cutting edge application.

Case Study Utilisation

Utilising global case studies as well as those local to the Mediterranean for processor training.

Marine Litter

The EO Processor

EO Processor For Marine Debris Detection

Using data from the Sentinel-2 Multispectral Imager, the processor will identify marine debris in the coastal waters of the Mediterranean Sea. This platform will provide the basis to track marine debris in the future using a series of models. 

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Marine Litter

Case Studies

Marine Litter

Latest news

Marine Litter

Connected Projects

Coastal Erosion

ARGANS, in conjunction with a global consortium of partners aim to develop applications to detect and track coastal erosion and accretion as well as analysing historical data to quantify coastal change over the last 25 years. This information can then be used to advise coastal management plans on a global scale to protect vital infrastructure at risk from coastal erosion.

Feasibiliy of Detecting Marine Litter from Space - RESMALI

In 2017, ARGANS, AIRBUS, The Ocean Cleanup and the University of Cadiz came together to determine the feasibility of remotely sensing ocean plastics using satellites as platforms. Data gathered in this project will provide a road-map for future marine litter investigations as well as allow for a better targeting system for clean-up operations.

Space for Smarter Government Programme – Marine Litter Detection

In this project ARGANS determined the unique radiometric signature of floating plastic targets by examining each of the 13 spectral bands provided by the on-board Sentinel-2 Multispectral Instrument. These targets have enabled the development of a semi-robust litter signal, which is hoped to formulate the baseline for a new Earth Observation Marine Litter processor, capable of routinely identifying and tracking Marine Litter targets in coastal waters.

North West Atlantic Coastal Marine Macro-Litter Forecast Service

The LITTER-TEP (Thematic Exploitation Platform) will provide a macro-litter beaching forecast service for local authorities, government agents, NGOs (Non-governmental organisations) and environmental protection agencies. The fate of marine macro-litter can be forecast by modelling drift using Lagrangian models and bulk fluxes using Eulerian models. These will be parameterised using CMEMS (Copernicus – Marine Environment Monitoring Service) products forecasting wave, wind and current data and supplemented with models of settlement, sinking and resuspension.

Coastal Erosion
Feasibiliy of Detecting Marine Litter from Space - RESMALI
Space for Smarter Government Programme – Marine Litter Detection
North West Atlantic Coastal Marine Macro-Litter Forecast Service

Marine Litter


ARGANS, is a UK-registered company with headquarters based in Plymouth UK, offices in Sophia-Antipolis and Brest, and staff located in London and Southampton.

We are specialists in satellite-based Earth Observation, remote-sensing applications and services, and geographical information systems used to map and monitor the marine, atmospheric and terrestrial environments. The team at ARGANS are also industry standard professionals in coastal charting through the application of satellite derived bathymetry. 

ARGANS offers satellite mission solutions across a range of services, including development of ground segment algorithms and applications, data quality assessment and validation, or operations on behalf of space agencies, while keeping a strong scientific expertise in remote sensing science. 

The company has forged strong partnerships through joining consortia both as prime and sub-contractor with UK, European and International entities: companies, research institutes, universities and individual scientific consultants. 

In association with our partners :

University of the Aegean

Leaders in marine research and host to the Marine Remote Sensing Group. Have conducted multiple experiments using artificial plastic targets to further remote sensing of marine litter work. 

University of Cádiz

Focussed research on large-scale data analysis of marine litter, with emphasis on the societal and management challenges it poses. Recent work looks at the source of plastic inputs to the Mediterranean.


Conduct research projects in the Mediterranean area, looking into climate change and pollution issues. Involved in many environmental big data projects across Europe.

Marine Litter

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