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Record number 550060
Title Modelling global river export of microplastics to the marine environment : Sources and future trends
Author(s) Wijnen, Jikke van; Ragas, Ad M.J.; Kroeze, Carolien
Source Science of the Total Environment 673 (2019). - ISSN 0048-9697 - p. 392 - 401.
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.078
Department(s) Water Systems and Global Change
WIMEK
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2019
Keyword(s) Coastal seas - Future scenarios - GREMiS model - Microplastics - Plastic soup - River transport
Abstract

Microplastics, transported by rivers to oceans, are triggering environmental concern. This study aims to better understand river export of microplastics from land to sea. We developed the Global Riverine Export of Microplastics into Seas (GREMiS) model, a global, spatially explicit model for analysing the annual microplastics export to coastal seas. Our results indicate that riverine microplastics export varies among world regions, with several hotspots, e.g., South East Asia, and, depending on the 2050 scenario, may be doubled (‘Business as usual’) or halved due to improved waste management (‘Environment profits’). Globally, our model simulations indicated fragmentation of macroplastics as the main source of microplastics, but this result heavily depends on the assumed fragmentation rate. Sewerage discharges contributed only 20%, ranging from 1% (Africa) to 60% (OECD countries) and decreasing by 2050 as a result of improved sanitation. We conclude that, combating microplastics in the aquatic environment requires more region-specific analyses.

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