flotsametrics
n. The use of floating debris to study ocean currents. [Blend of flotsam and metrics.]

Example Citations:
Flotsametrics: The use of floating trash, such as a huge consignment of training shoes washed off a cargo ship in 1990, to study ocean currents.
—"Viewfinder: Opinions from around the world," New Scientist, April 22, 2009

Visionary oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer will discuss the brand new science of "flotsametrics" and show how thousands of little yellow ducks revolutionized ocean science.
—"Sat: Curtis Ebbesmeyer (Flotsametrics)," The NightHawk Zone, April 11, 2009

Earliest Citation:
SIEGEL: A very well-traveled little bit of plastic there. How do you follow them around all the seas as they make their way?

Dr. EBBESMEYER: Well, I have a worldwide network of beachcombers who report in, and every quarter I summarize what they say, so there are eyes and ears around the world looking for things that fall out of cargo ships.

SIEGEL: Is this called flotsamology?

Dr. EBBESMEYER: Well, flotsametrics.
—Robert Siegel and Dr. Curt Ebbesmeyer, "Rubber Ducks Make Cross-Oceanic Voyage" (audio), All Things Considered (NPR), July 8, 2003

Notes:
This term is still linked to its coiner, the oceanographer Dr. Curt Ebbesmeyer, meaning that mentions of the word still reference either Dr. Ebbesmeyer or his book, Flotsametrics and the Floating World. I usually don't cover a term until it gets "unlinked" from its coiner and is freely roaming the culture, but flotsametrics is just too good a word to pass by. A tip of the Word Spy fedora to reader Sharon Ede for passing this one along.

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