15 Apr 2022
CLAIM research topic: Variability from observations and model analysis of microplastics in the Mediterranean
CLAIM researchers investigated the abundance and properties (size, shape and polymer type) of microplastics (MPs) in sea surface water samples, collected during two sampling campaigns over 2018–2019, in four coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea (Saronikos Gulf, Ligurian Sea, Gulf of Lion, and Gabes Gulf). In addition, to get a better understanding of the variability of the abundance/size of MPs, the researchers used coupled hydrodynamic/particle drift model simulations with basin-scale Mediterranean and high resolution nested models.
Photo: Mean (2018–2019) simulated microplastics (A) concentration (items/m2) and (B) contribution <1 mm (%). The four key study areas are indicated (black box, Gulf of Lion; blue box, Ligurian Sea; green box, Gabes Gulf; and red box, Saronikos Gulf).
The results showed that the Gabes Gulf has the highest mean MPs abundance (0.073–0.310 items/m2), followed by the Ligurian Sea (0.061–0.134 items/m2), Saronikos Gulf (0.047–0.080 items/m2), and Gulf of Lion (0.029–0.032 items/m2). Overall, the observed MPs abundance and size distribution was reasonably well reproduced by the model in the four different areas, except an overestimation of small size contribution in Saronikos Gulf.
The modelling tools proposed in this study provide useful insight to gain a better understanding on MPs dynamics in the marine environment and assess the current status of plastic pollution on basin and regional scale to further develop environmental management action for the mitigation of plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea.
You can read the full paper here.
This article is part of the research topic “Cleaning Litter by Developing and Applying Innovative Methods in European Seas” published in Frontiers of Marine Science.