Recently massive plastic patches such as the one in the North Pacific Gyre, which is estimated to weigh over 3 million tons and covers an area twice the size of Texas, have gained international attention. According to researchers, this happens due to a clockwise trade wind that encircles the Pacific Rim. Today has a good video which describes it. VSB has a science lesson plan which explains ocean currents by using the floating rubber duckies we blogged about last year.
I just came back from the The 23nd International Conference on Solid Waste Technology and Management at Widener University in Philadelphia. I presented with the Monongalia County Solid Waste Authority from WV and people from all over the world sang “Country Roads” to us. What is Solid Waste you ask? and What does it have to with anything spatial? For the purposes of the conference solid waste was very broadly defined from municiple solid waste (trash,recycling…), industrial (waste from manufacturing processes,Mining and mineral wastes…), specialized (agriculture…), facility siting and regulations, geotechnical topics, EU directives and much more. Spatial analysis is a very important component of solid waste management. I talked with the MASA group based in France which developed a waste management optimization tool for route analysis. They said that most places still design their collection routes by hand which works suprisingly well considering, some have begun to use GIS which has helped tremendousy. However, they (obviously since its what they sell) believe that an optimization tool that takes into account turns/single/doubleside collection…) with a GIS component (ESRI) can reduce the environmental impact and increase efficiency. they had also attended the ESRI conference in Switzerland. Other presentations focused on GIS and natural resources, spatial based selection of anaerobic digestion feedstock in California, Application of remote sensing and GIS techniques for disposal of wastes in India and other equally fascinating topics. You might be working in solid waste technology and management and not even realize it. I hope to see you at this conference next year.