Kara Lavender Law

Kara Lavender Law
Sea Education Association, Inc. · Oceanography

PhD

About

52
Publications
161,823
Reads
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18,927
Citations
Additional affiliations
July 2003 - present
Sea Education Association, Inc.
Position
  • Professor
August 2002 - December 2002
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Position
  • Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow
December 2001 - June 2003
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Education
August 1995 - August 2001
University of California, San Diego
Field of study
  • Physical Oceanography

Publications

Publications (52)
Article
Full-text available
In the global ocean, more than 380 species ingest microplastics (plastic particles less than 5 mm in size), including mid-trophic forage fishes central to pelagic food webs. Trophic pathways that bioaccumulate microplastics in marine food webs remain unclear. We assess the potential for the trophic transfer of microplastics through forage fishes, w...
Technical Report
An estimated 8 million metric tons (MMT) of plastic waste enters the world's ocean each year - the equivalent of dumping a garbage truck of plastic waste into the ocean every minute. Plastic waste is now found in almost every marine habitat, from the ocean surface to deep sea sediments to the ocean's vast mid-water region, as well as the Great Lake...
Article
Plastics are a ubiquitous class of synthetic polymer materials used in virtually all commercial and industrial sectors. The majority of global plastics consists of polymers with carbon–carbon backbones, whose environmental persistence and low cost have resulted in a massive reservoir of plastic waste that resides in landfills and the environment. A...
Article
Accelerated weathering of LDPE laminates, with samples exposed to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) in air and while floating in seawater at the same temperature, was investigated in this study. The depth profiles of the concentrations of oxidation products in the two sets of samples was assessed by FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy) and sugg...
Article
Plastic contamination of the environment is a global problem whose magnitude justifies the consideration of plastics as emergent geomaterials with chemistries not previously seen in Earth’s history. At the elemental level, plastics are predominantly carbon. The comparison of plastic stocks and fluxes to those of carbon reveals that the quantities o...
Article
Full-text available
This paper recounts the two-year journey of an eight-member public Massachusetts high school environmental club that set out to decrease their local community’s consumption of single-use plastics. In the academic years 2016–2018, launched by a presentation by co-author Dr. Kara Lavender Law, the students wrestled with the global problem of plastic...
Article
Marine litter (ML) consists of any item of anthropogenic origin that has been lost, discarded or intentionally dis- posed of into the environment, being acknowledged as a worldwide environmental and ecological threat. In the last decade, there has been an attempt across different sectors to tackle, reduce and mitigate sources of litter. In this stu...
Article
Marine litter (ML) consists of any item of anthropogenic origin that has been lost, discarded or intentionally dis- posed of into the environment, being acknowledged as a worldwide environmental and ecological threat. In the last decade, there has been an attempt across different sectors to tackle, reduce and mitigate sources of litter. In this stu...
Article
Full-text available
Plastic waste affects environmental quality and ecosystem health. In 2010, an estimated 5 to 13 million metric tons (Mt) of plastic waste entered the ocean from both developing countries with insufficient solid waste infrastructure and high-income countries with very high waste generation. We demonstrate that, in 2016, the United States generated t...
Article
Full-text available
Plastic pollution is a planetary threat, affecting nearly every marine and freshwater ecosystem globally. In response, multilevel mitigation strategies are being adopted but with a lack of quantitative assessment of how such strategies reduce plastic emissions. We assessed the impact of three broad management strategies, plastic waste reduction, wa...
Article
Full-text available
Marine plastic debris floating on the ocean surface is a major environmental problem. However, its distribution in the ocean is poorly mapped, and most of the plastic waste estimated to have entered the ocean from land is unaccounted for. Better understanding of how plastic debris is transported from coastal and marine sources is crucial to quantif...
Article
Since the start of commercial plastics production in the 1940s, global production has rapidly accelerated, doubling approximately every 11 years. Despite this increase and clear evidence of plastics loss into the oceans, including a substantial standing stock, previous research has not detected a temporal trend in plastic particle concentration in...
Article
Full-text available
Plastics and other artificial materials pose new risks to health of the ocean. Anthropogenic debris travels across large distances and is ubiquitous in the water and on the shorelines, yet, observations of its sources, composition, pathways and distributions in the ocean are very sparse and inaccurate. Total amounts of plastics and other man-made...
Article
Full-text available
Maximenko et al. Integrated Marine Debris Observing System Plastics and other artificial materials pose new risks to the health of the ocean. Anthropogenic debris travels across large distances and is ubiquitous in the water and on shorelines, yet, observations of its sources, composition, pathways, and distributions in the ocean are very sparse an...
Article
Three-quarters of all marine debris (MD) consists of plastic, a reflection of their worldwide use, production and waste mismanagement. Data on MD distributions can improve our ability to effectively reduce debris that escapes onto shorelines and the ocean. In this study, the Matrix Scoring Technique (Marine Strategy Framework Directive Technical Gr...
Article
Academic enterprises seeking to support society’s efforts to achieve global sustainability need to change their legacy reward systems. We need new structures to foster knowledge that is deeply integrated across disciplines and co-produced with non-academic stakeholders.
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the global mass inventory is one of the main challenges in present research on plastic marine debris. Especially the fragmentation and vertical transport processes of oceanic plastic are poorly understood. However, whereas fragmentation rates are unknown, information on plastic emissions, concentrations of plastics in the ocean surfac...
Article
Full-text available
Plastics have outgrown most man-made materials and have long been under environmental scrutiny. However, robust global information, particularly about their end-of-life fate, is lacking. By identifying and synthesizing dispersed data on production, use, and end-of-life management of polymer resins, synthetic fibers, and additives, we present the fi...
Article
Plastics contamination in the marine environment was first reported nearly 50 years ago, less than two decades after the rise of commercial plastics production, when less than 50 million metric tons were produced per year. In 2014, global plastics production surpassed 300 million metric tons per year. Plastic debris has been detected worldwide in a...
Article
Satellite views of the ocean have suggested a decline of the subpolar North Atlantic surface circulation during the 1990s and 2000s. This was a period of unprecedented observational capacity in the basin, thanks to the presence of many hundreds of profiling floats. We use more than 40,000 subsurface displacements of these floats to characterize the...
Article
Buoyant microplastic marine debris (MPMD) is a pollutant in the ocean surface boundary layer (OSBL) that is submerged by wave-driven turbulent transport processes. This study analyzes observed MPMD surface concentrations in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to reveal a significant increase in concentrations during surface heating and a decrease durin...
Article
Full-text available
Microplastic debris floating at the ocean surface can harm marine life. Understanding the severity of this harm requires knowledge of plastic abundance and distributions. Dozens of expeditions measuring microplastics have been carried out since the 1970s, but they have primarily focused on the North Atlantic and North Pacific accumulation zones, wi...
Article
Full-text available
This paper is the second of a two-part series that investigates passive buoyant tracers in the ocean surface boundary layer (OSBL). The first part examines the influence of equilibrium wind-waves on vertical tracer distributions, based on large eddy simulations (LESs) of the wave-averaged Navier-Stokes equation. Motivated by observations of buoyant...
Research
Full-text available
Observations of floating micro- and macroplasticdebris, in the Open Ocean & LMEs, were compiled from reliable published sources.
Research
Full-text available
IMO/FAO/UNESCO-IOC/UNIDO/WMO/IAEA/UN/UNEP/UNDP Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection GESAMP. Rep. Stud. GESAMP No. 90, 96 p.
Article
Full-text available
Fulmars are effective biological indicators of the abundance of floating plastic marine debris. Long-term data reveal high plastic abundance in the southern North Sea, gradually decreasing to the north at increasing distance from population centres, with lowest levels in high-arctic waters. Since the 1980s, pre-production plastic pellets in North S...
Article
Plastic debris in the marine environment is widely documented, but the quantity of plastic entering the ocean from waste generated on land is unknown. By linking worldwide data on solid waste, population density, and economic status, we estimated the mass of land-based plastic waste entering the ocean. We calculate that 275 million metric tons (MT)...
Article
Full-text available
Plastic debris in the marine environment is more than just an unsightly problem. Images of beach litter and large floating debris may first come to mind, but much recent concern about plastic pollution has focused on microplastic particles too small to be easily detected by eye (see the figure). Microplastics are likely the most numerically abundan...
Article
Full-text available
We present an extensive survey of floating plastic debris in the eastern North and South Pacific Oceans from more than 2,500 plankton net tows conducted between 2001 and 2012. From these data we defined an accumulation zone (25 to 41°N, 130 to 180°W) in the North Pacific subtropical gyre that closely corresponds to centers of accumulation resulting...
Article
Full-text available
Micro-plastic marine debris is widely distributed in vast regions of the subtropical gyres and has emerged as a major open ocean pollutant. The fate and transport of plastic marine debris is governed by poorly understood geophysical processes, such as ocean mixing within the surface boundary layer. Based on profile observations and a one-dimensiona...
Chapter
Full-text available
Article
Full-text available
Fifth International Marine Debris Conference: Hydrodynamics of Marine Debris; Honolulu, Hawaii, 20 March 2011; Ocean pollution in the form of marine debris, especially plastic debris, has received increasing public and media attention in recent years through striking but frequently inaccurate descriptions of ``garbage patches.'' Marine debris is co...
Article
Full-text available
Plastic marine pollution is a major environmental concern, yet a quantitative description of the scope of this problem in the open ocean is lacking. Here, we present a time series of plastic content at the surface of the western North Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea from 1986 to 2008. More than 60% of 6136 surface plankton net tows collected buoya...
Article
Full-text available
Labrador Sea Water (LSW), a dense water mass formed by convection in the subpolar North Atlantic, is an important constituent of the meridional overturning circulation. Understanding how the water mass enters the deep western boundary current (DWBC), one of the primary pathways by which it exits the subpolar gyre, can shed light on the continuity b...
Article
Key West – Roatan, Honduras – Key West, 8 February 2006 – 18 March 2006 This cruise report provides a record of data collected aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer during cruise C-203 (U.S. State Department Cruise 2005-096), which departed from Key West, FL on 8 February 2006 and transited through the Florida Straits, the Sargasso Sea, and the Caribbean S...
Article
Undergraduates in the 12-week SEA Semester program at the Sea Education Association (SEA) carry out the entire scientific research process, from conception of a testable scientific question to final presentation of results from data they collect on a six-week research cruise. SEA is uniquely positioned to direct undergraduates in oceanography resea...
Article
This demonstration develops intuition about density stratification, a concept critical to understanding the ocean`s thermohaline circulation. In addition, students learn how temperature and salinity affect density, how these characteristics may be density-compensating, and students gain practice in graphing and interpreting vertical profiles and te...
Article
The multi-year mean, mid-depth circulation of the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean was estimated from direct velocity measurements obtained over a 7.5-year period by 211 neutrally-buoyant, profiling, subsurface floats. We present a statistical analysis of these drift velocity data, and describe the features of the circulation from 400–1500 m depth as...
Article
This paper is an observational study of small-scale coherent eddies in the Labrador Sea, a region of dense water formation thought to be of considerable importance to the North Atlantic overturning circulation. Numerical studies of deep convection emphasize coherent eddies as a mechanism for the lateral transport of heat, yet their small size has h...
Article
The pathways and timescales for the spreading of Labrador Sea Water (LSW) in the subpolar North Atlantic are investigated with an advective–diffusive model. The model's mean flow and eddy diffusivity are derived from float measurements, while the region of LSW formation is obtained from hydrographic data. Two main export pathways for LSW are reprod...
Article
Full-text available
The occurrence and extent of deep convection in the Labrador Sea in winters 1996/97 and 1997/98 is investigated from measurements of over 200 neutrally buoyant subsurface Profiling Autonomous Lagrangian Circulation Explorer (PALACE) and Sounding Oceanographic Lagrangian Observer (SOLO) floats. In addition to providing drift velocity data and vertic...
Article
The Labrador Sea is one of the sites where convection exports surface water to the deep ocean in winter as part of the thermohaline circulation. Labrador Sea water is characteristically cold and fresh, and it can be traced at intermediate depths (500-2,000 m) across the North Atlantic Ocean, to the south and to the east of the Labrador Sea. Widespr...
Article
Vita. Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of California, San Diego, 2001. Includes bibliographical references.

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