EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Quantifying microplastic particle transport and retention in an experimental flume environment

Jan-Pascal Boos1,3, Benjamin Gilfedder3,2, and Sven Frei1,3
Jan-Pascal Boos et al.
  • 1Department of Hydrology, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany
  • 2Limnological Research Station, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany
  • 3Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany

Rivers and streams are the dominant transport vectors for microplastic (MP) input into marine environments. During transport, complex physicochemical interactions between particles, water and river sediments influence particle mobility and retention. The specific transport mechanisms of MP in fluvial systems are not yet fully understood, and the main reason lies in the limitation in reliable data derived from experimental analysis.

In our subproject of the ‘CRC 1357 Microplastics’, we investigate the hydrodynamic mechanisms that control the transport and retention behavior of MP in open channel flows and streambed sediments. In an experimental flume environment, we create realistic hydrodynamic and hyporheic flow conditions by using various porous media (e.g. glass beads or sand) and bedform structures (e.g. riffle-pool sequences, ripples and dunes), modelled from real stream systems.

The method developed here can quantitatively analyze the transport of pore-scale particles (1-40 µm) based on fluorometric techniques. Particle velocity distributions and particle transport are measured using Particle-Image-Velocimetry and Laser-Doppler-Velocimetry. With our setup, we can quantitatively investigate time-resolved MP transport and retention through the aqueous and solid phase in a flume scale experiment.

How to cite: Boos, J.-P., Gilfedder, B., and Frei, S.: Quantifying microplastic particle transport and retention in an experimental flume environment, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14789,, 2021.