Show simple item record

dc.contributor.authorReisser, J.
dc.contributor.authorSlat, B.
dc.contributor.authorNoble, K.
dc.contributor.authordu Plessis, K.
dc.contributor.authorEpp, M.
dc.contributor.authorProietti, M.
dc.contributor.authorde Sonneville, J.
dc.contributor.authorBecker, Thomas
dc.contributor.authorPattiaratchi, C.
dc.identifier.citationReisser, J. and Slat, B. and Noble, K. and du Plessis, K. and Epp, M. and Proietti, M. and de Sonneville, J. et al. 2015. The vertical distribution of buoyant plastics at sea: an observational study in the North Atlantic Gyre. Biogeosciences. 12 (4): pp. 1249-1256.

Millimetre-sized plastics are numerically abundant and widespread across the world’s ocean surface. These buoyant macroscopic particles can be mixed within the upper water column by turbulent transport. Models indicate that the largest decrease in their concentration occurs within the first few metres of water, where in situ observations are very scarce. In order to investigate the depth profile and physical properties of buoyant plastic debris, we used a new type of multi-level trawl at 12 sites within the North Atlantic subtropical gyre to sample from the air–seawater interface to a depth of 5 m, at 0.5m intervals. Our results show that plastic concentrations drop exponentially with water depth, and decay rates decrease with increasing Beaufort number. Furthermore, smaller pieces presented lower rise velocities and were more susceptible to vertical transport. This resulted in higher depth decays of plastic mass concentration (milligrams m-3) than numerical concentration (pieces m-3). Further multilevel sampling of plastics will improve our ability to predict at-sea plastic load, size distribution, drifting pattern, and impact on marine species and habitats.

dc.publisherCopernicus GmbH
dc.titleThe vertical distribution of buoyant plastics at sea: an observational study in the North Atlantic Gyre
dc.typeJournal Article
curtin.departmentNanochemistry Research Institute
curtin.accessStatusOpen access via publisher

Files in this item


This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as