Understanding Microplastic Distribution: A Global Citizen Monitoring Effort

Abigail Barrows, Adventure Scientists, Microplastic Project, Bozeman, MT, United States
Understanding distribution and abundance of microplastics in the world's oceans will continue to help inform global law-making. Through recruiting and training over 500 volunteers our study has collected over 1000 samples from remote and populated areas world-wide. Samples include water collected at the sea surface and throughout the water column. Surface to depth sampling has provided insight into vertical plastic distribution. The development of unique field and laboratory methodology has enabled plastics to be quantified down to 50 µm. In 2015, the study expanded to include global freshwater systems. By understanding plastic patterns, distribution and concentration in large and small watersheds we will better understand how freshwater systems are contributing to marine microplastic pollution.