The 8K visualization of microplastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean

This project aims to visualize microplastics spreading from East Asia to the Pacific Ocean to understand the pollution’s impact.

Plastics broken up into 5 mm pieces are called microplastics and come from discarded plastic products.

Large amounts of microplastics drift in the ocean and sink to the seafloor after about three years.
It has become a serious problem because marine organisms ingest these microplastics, causing stress, and the adsorbed pollutants significantly impact the ecosystem.

Professor Atsuhiko Isobe and his colleagues at the Center for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research of Kyushu University are developing a model to predict the amount of microplastics suspended and drifting in the ocean by combining an analysis of samples collected in the sea with numerical simulations.

In this project, Professor Isobe and NHK collaborated to visualize the simulation data based on this model in 8K resolution for the first time.

The visualization clearly shows how microplastics drift over a wide area from East Asia to the Pacific Ocean and indicates hot spots where suspended particles tend to gather. By following the trajectory of the particles, it is possible to understand how and where they travel.


  • A special exhibition for learning about biodiversity at NHK PLUS CROSS SHIBUYA, Tokyo from Nov. 13 to Dec. 19, 2021








Simulation data provided by Atsuhiko Isobe (Kyushu University, Japan)
Visualization design by Masaki Yamabe