Global simulations of marine plastic transport show plastic trapping in coastal zones.

Onink, Victor; Jongedijk, Cleo E; Hoffman, Matthew J; van Sebille, Erik; Laufkötter, Charlotte (2021). Global simulations of marine plastic transport show plastic trapping in coastal zones. Environmental Research Letters, 16(6), 064053. IOP Publishing 10.1088/1748-9326/abecbd

Onink_EnvironResLett_2021.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (4MB) | Preview

Global coastlines potentially contain significant amounts of plastic debris, with harmful implications for marine and coastal ecosystems, fisheries and tourism. However, the global amount, distribution and origin of plastic debris on beaches and in coastal waters is currently unknown. Here we analyze beaching and resuspension scenarios using a Lagrangian particle transport model. Throughout the first 5 years after entering the ocean, the model indicates that at least 77% ofpositively buoyant marine plastic debris (PBMPD) released from land-based sources is either beached or floating in coastal waters, assuming no further plastic removal from beaches or the ocean surface. The highest concentrations ofbeached PBMPD are found in Southeast Asia, caused by high plastic inputs from land and limited offshore transport, although the absolute concentrations are generally overestimates compared to field measurements. The modeled distribution on a global scale is only weakly influenced by local variations in resuspension rates due to coastal geomorphology. Furthermore, there are striking differences regarding the origin of the beached plastic debris. In some exclusive economic zones (EEZ), such as the Indonesian Archipelago, plastic originates almost entirely from within the EEZ while in other EEZs, particularly remote islands, almost all beached plastic debris arrives from remote sources. Our results highlight coastlines and coastal waters as important reservoirs ofmarine plastic debris and limited transport ofPBMPD between the coastal zone and the open ocean.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute

UniBE Contributor:

Onink, Victor, Laufkötter, Charlotte


500 Science > 530 Physics




IOP Publishing




Doris Kopp Heim

Date Deposited:

16 Jun 2021 12:28

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:51

Publisher DOI:





Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback