Spatial distribution of microplastic: from the northern North Sea to the Arctic

Antje.Wichels [ at ]


High concentrations of Microplastics (MP) have been found within the Artic region, yet little is known about the pathways of MP towards the Arctic. The aim of this study is to gather quality assured data on small MP particles, between 11 μm – 300 μm in size, on MP concentrations and polymer composition in surface water from the northern North Sea to the Barents Sea. During the He578 cruise (June – July 2021), 18 stations were sampled using a pneumatic pump-system. MP was identified using Focal Plane Array – μFourier Transform Infrared (FPA-μFTIR) spectroscopy. MP was detected in all sample stations, with concentrations ranging from 5.4 – 1799.7 MP m-3 (mean: 274.9  538.6 (SD) MP m–3). The most dominant polymer types (n = 18) were polypropylene, rubber type 3, and polyethylene. MP concentration and composition differed greatly between the sample stations, while no clear spatial pattern could be identified. Nonetheless, this study provides novel data relating to small (<300 μm) MP and information on their distribution between the northern North Sea and the Arctic. Data can be further used towards developing a better understanding on the flux and fate of MP in European waters.

Item Type
Thesis (Master)
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Publication Status
Eprint ID
Cite as
Starkenburg, M. (2022): Spatial distribution of microplastic: from the northern North Sea to the Arctic , Master thesis, Ghent University, Sint-Pieternieuwestraat 25, 9000 Ghent, Belgium.

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Research Platforms

HE > 560-579 > 578

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