MPCOAST: MicroPlastic transport processes in the COASTal environment
Easily ingested small microplastic particles (<5 mm) are considered to be perhaps the most harmful plastic fraction in the world's oceans, threatening ecosystems, food safety, etc. Despite this, basic knowledge of microplastic transport mechanisms and deposition behavior in coastal regions is severely lacking. MPCOAST aims to fill major associated research gaps by utilizing state-of-the-art coastal wave flumes and computational fluid dynamics models, which have been (surprisingly) nearly completely neglected in this context up to now. Primary objectives include: (1) identification of basic criteria for incipient motion and suspension for non-buoyant microplastic particles, (2) elucidating fundamental differences in transport mechanisms for buoyant vs. non-buoyant microplastic particles, and (3) identification of typical accumulation hotspots in nearshore environments. Such knowledge is essential if this increasing worldwide threat is ever to be successfully managed or removed.
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