Investigation of Sinks and Sources of Microplastics from a Typical Catchment Area to the Open Baltic Sea

PD Dr. habil. Matthias Labrenz
Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde / IOW,
Environmental Microbiology
Seestraße 15
18119 Rostock
Phone: +49 381/5197378

Duration Period
August 2017
April 2021

This project determines sources and sinks of microplastic in the Warnow river basin, as well as relevant dissemination processes on its way to the open Baltic Sea. Separate models will be linked so that the resulting model covers the entire river basin including estuary and coastal waters. The linked models serve to identify hotspot areas of microplastic entry and to estimate the effects of microplastic reduction measures in parts of the river basin. By converting the models into a handson multitouch table, project participants can make interactive, creative learning modules that can be presented in the form of a traveling exhibition in communities around the German Baltic coast from Stralsund to Flensburg. Further, MicroCatch_Balt includes the examination of anti-fouling paint and extreme weather events as sources and higher organisms as sinks. Based on this, MicroCatch_Balt will cover the most important aspects of microplastic contamination of limnic to marine systems in northern Germany, thereby offering interest groups the expertise with which to develop future monitoring and strategies for reduction.

Main areas of work

  • Sampling in the Warnow river basin and estuary, extraction and identification of microplastics
  • Modelling of microplastic input into the Warnow system of diffuse and point sources
  • Development of two multi-media modules for a multi-touch table and organisation of a traveling exhibition

WP 1 Sampling of microplastic from the environment

Contact person
PD Dr. habil. Matthias Labrenz, Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research, Environmental Microbiology, Seestraße 15, 18119 Rostock, e-mail: matthias.labrenz@io-warnemuende.de

Project partner

Short description
In WP 1, environmental samples (water, sediment, soil, benthic and pelagic higher organisms) are collected, processed and identified in the Warnow area. Of particular interest are potential sources such as wastewater treatment plants / sewage separation, drainage ditches, erosion areas, industrially influenced areas as well as extreme events like Hanse Sail, New Year‘s Eve, heavy rain and storm events. Potential sinks, including higher organisms (mussels, worms, fish), beaches and sediments are also sampled. In all samples, the microplastic particles are identified and quantified using spectroscopic methods.

WP 2 Modelling of the Warnow estuary and the catchment area

Contact person
Dipl.-Ing.agr. Peter Kreins, Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute - Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries, Bundesallee 50, 38116 Braunschweig, e-mail: peter.kreins@thuenen.de

Project partner

Short description
By adapting and combining different regional models, spatially high-resolution modelling of landside diffuse and point source of microplastic emissions into the river basin of the Warnow will take place. In this way, on the one hand the hotspots of pollution in the Warnow river area are identified and on the other hand the entire landside microplastic entries into coastal waters are quantified.

WP 3 Microplastics Touring Exhibition

Contact person
Dr. Barbara Hentzsch, Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, Scientific Management and Communication, Seestraße 15, 18119 Rostock, e-mail: barbara.hentzsch@io-warnemuende.de

Project partner

Short description
In WP 3 a traveling exhibition with an interactive multimedia learning module will be developed, which presents the project results in the form of animations. The traveling exhibition will be shown in Stralsund, Rostock, Hamburg, Kiel, Eckernförde and Flensburg. The respective exhibition openings will be accompanied by plenary discussions with representatives of the local environmental authorities and scientists.

WP 4 Project management

Contact person
Franziska Klaeger, Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research, Environmental Microbiology, Seestraße 15, 18119 Rostock, +49 381 5197249, e-mail: franziska.klaeger@io-arnemuende.de

Short description
WP 4 covers project management and ensures efficient and productive execution of the project. The tasks of WP 4 include coordination with the other “Plastics in the Environment” projects PLAWES, PLASTRAT and the BONUS project MICROPOLL, as well as monitoring finances and work results, organising regular project meetings, disseminating project results to the public, and supporting the project manager with regard to internal and external scientific communication.

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