The effect of particle properties on the depth profile of buoyant plastics in the ocean

Merel Kooi, J. Reisser, B. Slat, F. Ferrari, M. Schmid, S. Cunsolo, R. Brambini, K. Noble, L.A. Sirks, T.E.W. Linders, R.I. Schoeneich-Argent, A.A. Koelmans

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Abstract

Most studies on buoyant microplastics in the marine environment rely on sea surface sampling. Consequently, microplastic amounts can be underestimated, as turbulence leads to vertical mixing. Models that correct for vertical mixing are based on limited data. In this study we report measurements of the depth profile of buoyant microplastics in the North Atlantic subtropical gyre, from 0 to 5 m depth. Microplastics were separated into size classes (0.5–1.5 and 1.5–5.0 mm) and types (‘fragments’ and ‘lines’), and associated with a sea state. Microplastic concentrations decreased exponentially with depth, with both sea state and particle properties affecting the steepness of the decrease. Concentrations approached zero within 5 m depth, indicating that most buoyant microplastics are present on or near the surface. Plastic rise velocities were also measured, and were found to differ significantly for different sizes and shapes. Our results suggest that (1) surface samplers such as manta trawls underestimate total buoyant microplastic amounts by a factor of 1.04–30.0 and (2) estimations of depth-integrated buoyant plastic concentrations should be done across different particle sizes and types. Our findings can assist with improving buoyant ocean plastic vertical mixing models, mass balance exercises, impact assessments and mitigation strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number33882
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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plastic
vertical mixing
ocean
sea state
gyre
sampler
marine environment
sea surface
mass balance
mitigation
turbulence
particle size
effect
particle
sampling

Cite this

Kooi, Merel ; Reisser, J. ; Slat, B. ; Ferrari, F. ; Schmid, M. ; Cunsolo, S. ; Brambini, R. ; Noble, K. ; Sirks, L.A. ; Linders, T.E.W. ; Schoeneich-Argent, R.I. ; Koelmans, A.A. / The effect of particle properties on the depth profile of buoyant plastics in the ocean. In: Scientific Reports. 2016 ; Vol. 6.
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abstract = "Most studies on buoyant microplastics in the marine environment rely on sea surface sampling. Consequently, microplastic amounts can be underestimated, as turbulence leads to vertical mixing. Models that correct for vertical mixing are based on limited data. In this study we report measurements of the depth profile of buoyant microplastics in the North Atlantic subtropical gyre, from 0 to 5 m depth. Microplastics were separated into size classes (0.5–1.5 and 1.5–5.0 mm) and types (‘fragments’ and ‘lines’), and associated with a sea state. Microplastic concentrations decreased exponentially with depth, with both sea state and particle properties affecting the steepness of the decrease. Concentrations approached zero within 5 m depth, indicating that most buoyant microplastics are present on or near the surface. Plastic rise velocities were also measured, and were found to differ significantly for different sizes and shapes. Our results suggest that (1) surface samplers such as manta trawls underestimate total buoyant microplastic amounts by a factor of 1.04–30.0 and (2) estimations of depth-integrated buoyant plastic concentrations should be done across different particle sizes and types. Our findings can assist with improving buoyant ocean plastic vertical mixing models, mass balance exercises, impact assessments and mitigation strategies.",
author = "Merel Kooi and J. Reisser and B. Slat and F. Ferrari and M. Schmid and S. Cunsolo and R. Brambini and K. Noble and L.A. Sirks and T.E.W. Linders and R.I. Schoeneich-Argent and A.A. Koelmans",
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Kooi, M, Reisser, J, Slat, B, Ferrari, F, Schmid, M, Cunsolo, S, Brambini, R, Noble, K, Sirks, LA, Linders, TEW, Schoeneich-Argent, RI & Koelmans, AA 2016, 'The effect of particle properties on the depth profile of buoyant plastics in the ocean' Scientific Reports, vol. 6, 33882. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep33882

The effect of particle properties on the depth profile of buoyant plastics in the ocean. / Kooi, Merel; Reisser, J.; Slat, B.; Ferrari, F.; Schmid, M.; Cunsolo, S. ; Brambini, R.; Noble, K.; Sirks, L.A.; Linders, T.E.W.; Schoeneich-Argent, R.I.; Koelmans, A.A.

In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 6, 33882, 2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - The effect of particle properties on the depth profile of buoyant plastics in the ocean

AU - Kooi, Merel

AU - Reisser, J.

AU - Slat, B.

AU - Ferrari, F.

AU - Schmid, M.

AU - Cunsolo, S.

AU - Brambini, R.

AU - Noble, K.

AU - Sirks, L.A.

AU - Linders, T.E.W.

AU - Schoeneich-Argent, R.I.

AU - Koelmans, A.A.

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - Most studies on buoyant microplastics in the marine environment rely on sea surface sampling. Consequently, microplastic amounts can be underestimated, as turbulence leads to vertical mixing. Models that correct for vertical mixing are based on limited data. In this study we report measurements of the depth profile of buoyant microplastics in the North Atlantic subtropical gyre, from 0 to 5 m depth. Microplastics were separated into size classes (0.5–1.5 and 1.5–5.0 mm) and types (‘fragments’ and ‘lines’), and associated with a sea state. Microplastic concentrations decreased exponentially with depth, with both sea state and particle properties affecting the steepness of the decrease. Concentrations approached zero within 5 m depth, indicating that most buoyant microplastics are present on or near the surface. Plastic rise velocities were also measured, and were found to differ significantly for different sizes and shapes. Our results suggest that (1) surface samplers such as manta trawls underestimate total buoyant microplastic amounts by a factor of 1.04–30.0 and (2) estimations of depth-integrated buoyant plastic concentrations should be done across different particle sizes and types. Our findings can assist with improving buoyant ocean plastic vertical mixing models, mass balance exercises, impact assessments and mitigation strategies.

AB - Most studies on buoyant microplastics in the marine environment rely on sea surface sampling. Consequently, microplastic amounts can be underestimated, as turbulence leads to vertical mixing. Models that correct for vertical mixing are based on limited data. In this study we report measurements of the depth profile of buoyant microplastics in the North Atlantic subtropical gyre, from 0 to 5 m depth. Microplastics were separated into size classes (0.5–1.5 and 1.5–5.0 mm) and types (‘fragments’ and ‘lines’), and associated with a sea state. Microplastic concentrations decreased exponentially with depth, with both sea state and particle properties affecting the steepness of the decrease. Concentrations approached zero within 5 m depth, indicating that most buoyant microplastics are present on or near the surface. Plastic rise velocities were also measured, and were found to differ significantly for different sizes and shapes. Our results suggest that (1) surface samplers such as manta trawls underestimate total buoyant microplastic amounts by a factor of 1.04–30.0 and (2) estimations of depth-integrated buoyant plastic concentrations should be done across different particle sizes and types. Our findings can assist with improving buoyant ocean plastic vertical mixing models, mass balance exercises, impact assessments and mitigation strategies.

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DO - 10.1038/srep33882

M3 - Article

VL - 6

JO - Scientific Reports

JF - Scientific Reports

SN - 2045-2322

M1 - 33882

ER -