Here’s where 17,000 ocean research buoys ended up | Science News

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Here’s where 17,000 ocean research buoys ended up

Visualization combines 35 years’ worth of tracking data into one buoy ballet

2:24pm, May 17, 2016
visualization of ocean buoy movement

BUOY BALLET  The journeys of thousands of ocean buoys (white dots) visualize the ocean currents that feed into Earth’s swirling ocean gyres, also known as ocean garbage patches.

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Garbage in, garbage out. But where does all that garbage go? In the oceans, floating bits of debris — everything from plastic bags to Legos — tend to ride along ocean currents to a common destination: one of five major whirling ocean gyres, also known as the ocean garbage patches. Researchers recently got a new look at these gyres thanks to a visualization that combined 35 years’ worth of data on another thing humans drop into the oceans: scientific buoys. The visualization was a finalist in the Data Stories competition sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The winners were announced May 5.

Free-floating buoys, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, track temperature, saltiness and other ocean properties.

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