Blown to the North? Microplastic in snow fallen out from the atmosphere of Europe and the Arctic

Melanie.Bergmann [ at ]


There is a 99% mismatch between plastic debris estimated to enter the oceans and empirical evidence pointing to yet unaccounted sinks. The FRAM pollution observatory was installed to quantify plastic pollution in different ecosystem compartments to identify hidden sinks and pathways in an area of increasing pollution. Indeed, our first analyses showed enormous quan- tities of microplastics ≤ 25 im in both Arctic sea ice and sediments from the deep sea posing the question: How is all this plastic transported so far to the North? The importance of atmospheric transport was recently stressed by reports of microplastic in the atmosphere of Paris and Dongguan city. Here, we analysed snow samples from ice floes in the Fram Strait (2016/17) and from snow collected on Spitsbergen, Helgoland, Bremen and the Swiss Alps (2018) to assess the role of this potential pathway of microplastic to the North. Identification of particles was carried out by i-Raman and FTIR imaging. Microplastic particles appeared to be in all samples analysed but polymer composition varied. As with previous data, the sizes of particles were mostly in the smallest size range. The results are discussed in the context of data from other ecosystem compartments.

Item Type
Conference (Talk)
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Research Networks
Publication Status
Event Details
MICRO 2018, 19 Nov 2018 - 23 Nov 2018, Lanzarote, Spain.
Eprint ID
Cite as
Bergmann, M. , Mützel, S. , Meyns, M. , Primpke, S. , Tekman, M. B. and Gerdts, G. (2018): Blown to the North? Microplastic in snow fallen out from the atmosphere of Europe and the Arctic , MICRO 2018, Lanzarote, Spain, 19 November 2018 - 23 November 2018 .

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Geographical region

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ARK > XXIX > 2.1
PS > 107
PS > 108
PS > 99

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