Uniting the world-leading expertise of the University of Plymouth with the technical innovation of IBM and others, the MAS project will enable scientists to gather data on levels of microplastics found across the Atlantic and any particular hotspots of plastic pollution.
Water sampling devices will be fitted on the vessel, and the samples collected would be analysed in the University’s ultraclean plastics lab.
That work is being led by Professor Richard Thompson OBE, Head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit, and will be carried out by a mix of academics, students and graduates.
The University of Plymouth is a world leader in marine litter science, and received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2020 in recognition of its work to demonstrate the abundance of microplastics in our oceans.
It has pioneered research into microbeads in cosmetics, fibres from the laundry cycle and, most recently, tyre particles in rivers and oceans – but also plastic pollution in the deep seas and the Arctic.