FRONTAL: Satellite FRONTs for detection of Anthropogenic plastic Litter

Fronts in coastal and oceanic regions are hot-spots for rich and diverse marine life, where floating marine debris also tends to accumulate. FRONTAL is developing a prototype for identifying areas at risk of accumulating plastic pollution to aid management of these areas.


The project is using state-of-the-art techniques that directly detect debris in the ocean using Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite data, which is validated using in-situ datasets. This is combined with front detection algorithms applied to themal, optical and SAR satellite imagery to provide an index of risk for the accumulation of marine plastic debris. The pathways of plastic pollution into the ocean are then investigated using numerical dispersion models.

PML is the lead partner of this project and is combining our unique capabilities in front detection with modelling at very high resolution near the coast to provide risk maps for accumulation of marine debris in developing countries. This includes a case study where we are working in collaboration with local stakeholders in Da Nang, Vietnam.


FRONTAL will provide a tool that local and regional policy makers can use to identify key areas where intervention is likely to be most effective.

Key information

Funder: ESA

Project start date: September 2020

Project end date: September 2022

Share this page



Dr Victor Martinez-Vicente
Bio-optical oceanographer

Other recent news articles


Ocean fronts attract ocean wanderers - foraging gannets on the front line

Foraging seabirds use oceanic fronts as an efficient means to forage for food, according to an international study that could help safeguard the future of protected species. A team of scientists led by Plymouth University and the University of Exeter, and involving PML scient...


The front line in marine vertebrate conservation

New study in the Journal of Applied Ecology identifies potential step forward in conservation of iconic large marine animals.


scientists unravel the mystery of gannets’ feeding success

Researchers at PML and the University of Exeter have combined two innovative technologies to probe the mystery of how seabirds locate food hotspots across vast tracts of ocean.

|< <  1 2   > >|