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MARINFORSK-Marine ressurser og miljø

Fluxes and Fate of Microplastics in Northern European Waters

Alternative title: Flukses og skjebne av mikroplast i Nordeuropeiske vann

Awarded: NOK 0.90 mill.

The project FACTS will create new knowledge and improve our understanding on the sources, transport, occurrence, and fate of small microplastics in the northern marine waters. FACTS will combine newest methods to describe transport and geographical sources of microplastics contamination. We will also investigate where microplastic particles will end up both in temperate waters of the southern North Sea and the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea. We will work on the research of where MP can be found in the water column and use the Skagerrak as a major sink zone. We will investigate transport processes by drifting in water, transport in air and aggregation and sinking processes. FACTS also zooms in on the geographic scale to study microplastic transport and fate in a semi enclosed fjord system in Bergen, Norway. The goal is to address the question of how MP move vertically in the water column. FACTS is structured around a set of sampling campaigns reaching from the German Bight to Svalbard, where samples are collected from large research vessels, smaller research vessels, fishery vessels and land based stations. Airsamples have been collected during a four-week long cruise along the Norwegian coastin June 2021, using three different sampling methods. The samples will be Plastic particle concentrations, obtained from the sampling campaigns will be used in oceanographic model calculations. The modelling approach is used to combine release and transport scenarios, with the likelihood and timescale for particles to sink, defragment and/ or end up on beaches. FACTS will be will also look at more complex particles as nanoplastics and tyre wear particles in marine samples. Both particle types can currently not be measured in a good way. Finally FACTS will share their expertise and findings to a wide range of stakeholders, ranging from other scientists to European decision makers.

FACTS will create new knowledge and improve our mechanistic understanding on the sources, transport, occurrence, and fate of small microplastics in the northern marine waters. FACTS will combine state-of-the-art analytical, monitoring and modelling approaches in feedback cycles to describe transport and geographical sources of microplastics contamination as well as sinks from the temperate waters of the southern North Sea to the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea. It analyses the distribution of MP in the water column and quantifies Skagerrak as a major sink zone. Investigated transport processes range from drift scenarios to air transport to aggregation and sinking processes. FACTS also zooms in on the geographic scale to study microplastic transport and fate in a semi enclosed fjord system. The goal is to address the question of how MP move vertically in the water column with time under comparatively well-defined hydrodynamic conditions. FACTS is structured around a set of sampling campaigns reaching from the German Bight to Svalbard, where samples are collected from large research vessels, smaller research vessels, fishery vessels and land based stations. Plastic particle concentrations, obtained from the proposed sampling campaigns are implemented into oceanographic models. The modelling approach is used to integrate release and transport scenarios, and the likelihood and timescale for particle pathways is estimated based on sinking, defragmentation, and beaching rates, obtained from observations. FACTS will be enhanced by tackling the current challenges of nanoplastics and tyre wear particle detection in marine samples. Both particle types are currently not accessible for mass balances of marine plastics contamination. Finally FACTS synthesises the knowledge gained and disseminates it to a wide range of stakeholders, ranging from other scientists to European decision makers.

Funding scheme:

MARINFORSK-Marine ressurser og miljø