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

Wet and dry plastic deposition in the western United States

Janice Brahney1, Margaret Hallerud1, Eric Heim1, Maura Hahnenberger2, and Suja Sukumaran3
Janice Brahney et al.
  • 1Dept of Watershed Sciences, Utah State University, USA
  • 2Geosciences Department, Salt Lake Community College, USA
  • 3Material Sciences Division, Thermo Fisher Scientific, San Jose, USA

Eleven billion tons of plastic are projected to accumulate in the environment by 2025. Because plastics are persistent, they fragment into pieces that are susceptible to wind entrainment. Using high resolution spatial and temporal data we tested whether plastics deposited wet versus dry have unique atmospheric life histories. Further, we report on the rates and sources of deposition to remote U.S. conservation areas. We show that urban centers and resuspension from soils or water are important sources for wet deposition. In contrast, plastics deposited dry were smaller in size and rates were related to indices that suggest longer range or global transport. Deposition rates averaged 132 plastics m-2 day-1 amounting to > 1000 tons of plastic deposition to western U.S. protected lands annually.

How to cite: Brahney, J., Hallerud, M., Heim, E., Hahnenberger, M., and Sukumaran, S.: Wet and dry plastic deposition in the western United States, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16331,, 2021.

Corresponding presentation materials formerly uploaded have been withdrawn.