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Identification of tidal trapping of microplastics in a temperate salt marsh system using sea surface microlayer sampling

Stead, Jessica L.; Cundy, Andrew B.; Hudson, Malcolm D.; Thompson, Charlie E. L.; Williams, Ian D.; Russell, Andrea E.; Pabortsava, Katsiaryna. 2020 Identification of tidal trapping of microplastics in a temperate salt marsh system using sea surface microlayer sampling. Scientific Reports, 10 (1), 14147. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-70306-5

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Abstract/Summary

Microplastics are contaminants of increasing global environmental concern. Estuaries are a major transport pathway for land-derived plastics to the open ocean but are relatively understudied compared to coastal and open marine environments. The role of the “estuarine filter”, by which the supply of sediments and contaminants to the sea is moderated by processes including vegetative trapping and particle flocculation, remains poorly defined for microplastics land to sea transfer. Here, we focus on the sea surface microlayer (SML) as a vector for microplastics, and use SML sampling to assess microplastic trapping in a temperate marsh system in Southampton Water, UK. The SML is known to concentrate microplastics relative to the underlying water and is the first part of rising tidal waters to traverse intertidal and upper tidal surfaces. Sampling a salt marsh creek at high temporal resolution allowed assessment of microplastics in-wash and outflow from the salt marsh, and its relationship with tidal state and bulk suspended sediment concentrations (SSC), over spring and neap tides. A statistically significant decrease in microplastics abundance from the flood tide to the ebb tide was found, and a weak positive relationship with SSC observed.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-70306-5
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date made live: 06 Nov 2020 15:30 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/528876

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