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Fluxes and fate of microplastics in Northern European waters (FACTS)

The project FACTS will create new knowledge and improve our understanding on the sources, transport, occurrence, and fate of small microplastics (MP) in the northern marine waters. FACTS will combine newest methods to describe transport and geographical sources of microplastics contamination. We will also investigate where microplastic particles will end up both in temperate waters of the southern North Sea and the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea.

Project details

Website: https://jpi-oceans-facts.eu/

Status: Ongoing

Project period: 2020–2023

Principal: Research Council of Norway (RCN) (311316)

Coordinating institution: NILU - Norwegian Institute for Air Research

We will work on the research of where MP can be found in the water column and use the Skagerrak as a major sink zone. We will investigate transport processes by drifting in water, transport in air and aggregation and sinking processes. FACTS also zooms in on the geographic scale to study microplastic transport and fate in a semi enclosed fjord system in Bergen, Norway. The goal is to address the question of how MP move vertically in the water column.

FACTS is structured around a set of sampling campaigns reaching from the German Bight to Svalbard, where samples are collected from large research vessels, smaller research vessels, fishery vessels and land based stations. Plastic particle concentrations, obtained from the proposed sampling campaigns will be used in oceanographic model calculations. The modelling approach is used to combine release and transport scenarios, with the likelihood and timescale for particles to sink, defragment and/ or end up on beaches. FACTS will be will also look at more complex particles as nanoplastics and tyre wear particles in marine samples. Both particle types can currently not be measured in a good way. Finally FACTS will share their expertise and findings to a wide range of stakeholders, ranging from other scientists to European decision makers.