Large-scale detection of marine debris in coastal areas with Sentinel-2

Marc Rußwurm*, Sushen Jilla Venkatesa, Devis Tuia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Detecting and quantifying marine pollution and macroplastics is an increasingly pressing ecological issue that directly impacts ecology and human health. Here, remote sensing can provide reliable estimates of plastic pollution by regularly monitoring and detecting marine debris in coastal areas. In this work, we present a detector for marine debris built on a deep segmentation model that outputs a probability for marine debris at the pixel level. We train this detector with a combination of annotated datasets of marine debris and evaluate it on specifically selected test sites where it is highly probable that plastic pollution is present in the detected marine debris. We integrate data-centric artificial intelligence principles by devising a training strategy with extensive sampling of negative examples and an automated label refinement of coarse hand labels. This yields a deep learning model that achieves higher accuracies on benchmark comparisons than existing detection models trained on previous datasets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108402
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2023


  • Earth sciences
  • pollution
  • remote sensing


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