Advancing Floating Macroplastic Detection from Space Using Experimental Hyperspectral Imagery

Paolo Tasseron*, Tim Van Emmerik, Joseph Peller, Louise Schreyers, Lauren Biermann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Airborne and spaceborne remote sensing (RS) collecting hyperspectral imagery provides unprecedented opportunities for the detection and monitoring of floating riverine and marine plastic debris. However, a major challenge in the application of RS techniques is the lack of a fundamental understanding of spectral signatures of water-borne plastic debris. Recent work has emphasised the case for open-access hyperspectral reflectance reference libraries of commonly used polymer items. In this paper, we present and analyse a high-resolution hyperspectral image database of a unique mix of 40 virgin macroplastic items and vegetation. Our double camera setup covered the visible to shortwave infrared (VIS-SWIR) range from 400 to 1700 nm in a darkroom experiment with controlled illumination. The cameras scanned the samples floating in water and captured high-resolution images in 336 spectral bands. Using the resulting reflectance spectra of 1.89 million pixels in linear discriminant analyses (LDA), we determined the importance of each spectral band for discriminating between water and mixed floating debris, and vegetation and plastics. The absorption peaks of plastics (1215 nm, 1410 nm) and vegetation (710 nm, 1450 nm) are associated with high LDA weights. We then compared Sentinel-2 and Worldview-3 satellite bands with these outcomes and identified 12 satellite bands to overlap with important wavelengths for discrimination between the classes. Lastly, the Normalised Vegetation Difference Index (NDVI) and Floating Debris Index (FDI) were calculated to determine why they work, and how they could potentially be improved. These findings could be used to enhance existing efforts in monitoring macroplastic pollution, as well as form a baseline for the design of future multispectral RS systems. View Full-Text
Original languageEnglish
Article number2335
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Advancing Floating Macroplastic Detection from Space Using Experimental Hyperspectral Imagery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this