Low-Density Plastic Debris Dispersion beneath the Mediterranean Sea Surface - Sorbonne Université Access content directly
Journal Articles Environmental Science and Technology Year : 2023

Low-Density Plastic Debris Dispersion beneath the Mediterranean Sea Surface


Plastic is a widespread marine pollutant, with most studies focusing on the distribution of floating plastic debris at the sea surface. Recent evidence, however, indicates a significant presence of such low density plastic in the water column and at the seafloor, but information on its origin and dispersion is lacking. Here, we studied the pathways and fate of sinking plastic debris in the Mediterranean Sea, one of the most polluted world seas. We used a recent Lagrangian plastic-tracking model, forced with realistic parameters, including a maximum estimated sinking speed of 7.8 m/d. Our simulations showed that the locations where particles left the surface differed significantly from those where they reached the seafloor, with lateral transport distances between 119 and 282 km. Furthermore, 60% of particles deposited on the bottom coastal strip (20 km wide) were released from vessels, 20% from the facing country, and 20% from other countries. Theoretical considerations furthermore suggested that biological activities potentially responsible for the sinking of low density plastic occur throughout the water column. Our findings indicate that the responsibility for seafloor plastic pollution is shared among Mediterranean countries, with potential impact on pelagic and benthic biota.
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Dates and versions

hal-04087301 , version 1 (10-05-2023)





Alberto Baudena, Rainer Kiko, Isabel Jalón-Rojas, Maria Luiza Pedrotti. Low-Density Plastic Debris Dispersion beneath the Mediterranean Sea Surface. Environmental Science and Technology, 2023, ⟨10.1021/acs.est.2c08873⟩. ⟨hal-04087301⟩
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