The streaming of plastic in the Mediterranean Sea

Type Article
Date 2022-05
Language English
Author(s) Baudena AlbertoORCID1, Ser-Giacomi EnricoORCID2, Jalón-Rojas Isabel3, Galgani FrancoisORCID4, Pedrotti Maria Luiza1
Affiliation(s) 1 : Sorbonne Université, CNRS, Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche, UMR 7093 LOV, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
2 : Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 54-1514 MIT, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA
3 : CNRS, UMR5805 EPOC, University of Bordeaux, 33615, Pessac, France
4 : French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER), Bastia, France
Source Nature Communications (2041-1723) (Springer Science and Business Media LLC), 2022-05 , Vol. 13 , N. 1 , P. 2981 (9p.)
DOI 10.1038/s41467-022-30572-5
WOS© Times Cited 3
Abstract

Plastic debris is a ubiquitous pollutant on the sea surface. To date, substantial research efforts focused on the detection of plastic accumulation zones. Here, a different paradigm is proposed: looking for crossroad regions through which large amounts of plastic debris flow. This approach is applied to the Mediterranean Sea, massively polluted but lacking in zones of high plastic concentration. The most extensive dataset of plastic measurements in this region to date is combined with an advanced numerical plastic-tracking model. Around 20% of Mediterranean plastic debris released every year passed through about 1% of the basin surface. The most important crossroads intercepted plastic debris from multiple sources, which had often traveled long distances. The detection of these spots could foster understanding of plastic transport and help mitigation strategies. Moreover, the general applicability and the soundness of the crossroad approach can promote its application to the study of other pollutants.

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