Friday 20. January 2012

Microplastics in Coastal Environments: a Problem in West-Iceland?

This Monday, January 23, at 15:00, the first master's thesis presentation of the year will take place in the University Centre.


Benjamin Dippo, a master's student in Coastal and Marine Management, will present and defend his master's thesis "Microplastics in the Coastal Environment of West Iceland". The presentation will be conducted in English. Everyone welcome to attend.


Benjamin's advisor is Dr. Jörundur Svavarsson from the University of Iceland, and his second reader is Dr. Helgi Jensson, senior consultant at the Environmental Agency in Iceland. They will all be present via teleconferencing equipment.


About the project
The wide range of applications and increased uses of plastic materials on a global scale has resulted in these materials being carelessly discarded in all types of environments. Growing accumulations of discarded plastic waste are showing signs of potential human health impacts and sever consequences for worldwide ecosystems. There is a lack of knowledge about the presence of these materials in the Icelandic setting. The objective of this study is to document the types, quantities and distribution of microplastics in relation to a hypothesis that marine debris will travel along ocean currents from the urbanized area around Reykjavik, into more remote locations of Faxaflói and Breiðafjörður Bay. This project is designed to assess if the global trend of highly urbanized areas acting as large contributors to marine plastics in remote regions is evident in the Icelandic setting.


General observations taken while conducting field research are used to develop a greater understanding of how this type of marine debris might affect other aspects of the surrounding environment. The overall objective of this work is to shed light on a coastal marine issue that is receiving global attention, but not being investigated in the Icelandic landscape. The use of a cheap, effective and reliable sampling protocol will hopefully initiate further research and promote the establishment of future long-term monitoring programs for microplastics in the Icelandic environment.

Example of microplastics found during the research
Example of microplastics found during the research