Vertical flux of microplastic, a case study in the Southern Ocean, South Georgia

Rowlands, E, Galloway, T, Cole, MJ, Peck, VL, Posacka, A, Thorpe, S and Manno, C 2023 Vertical flux of microplastic, a case study in the Southern Ocean, South Georgia. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 193. 115117.

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Estimated plastic debris floating at the ocean surface varies depending on modelling approaches, with some suggesting unaccounted sinks for marine plastic debris due to mismatches between plastic predicted to enter the ocean and that accounted for at the surface. A major knowledge gap relates to the vertical sinking of oceanic plastic. We used an array of floating sediment traps combined with optical microscopy and Raman spectroscopy to measure the microplastic flux between 50 and 150 m water depth over 24 h within a natural harbour of the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia. This region is influenced by fishing, tourism, and research activity. We found a 69 % decrease in microplastic flux from 50 m (306 pieces/m2/day) to 150 m (94pieces/m2/day). Our study confirms the occurrence of a vertical flux of microplastic in the upper water column of the Southern Ocean, which may influence zooplankton microplastic consumption and the carbon cycle.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Keywords: Vertical transport Fibres Fragments Floating sediment trap Raman spectroscopy
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine Ecology and Biodiversity
Depositing User: S Hawkins
Date made live: 24 Apr 2024 11:26
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2024 11:26

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