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

Validation of marine plastic litter distribution models on the North-Western Mediterranean

Carlo Brandini1,2, Bartolomeo Doronzo1,2, Michele Bendoni1, Taddei Stefano1, Fattorini Maria1,2, Perna Massimo1, Lapucci Chiara1,2, Cristina Panti3, Matteo Baini3, Alessandro Galli3, and Maria Cristina Fossi3
Carlo Brandini et al.
  • 1LaMMA Consortium, Sesto Fiorentino - Firenze, Italy (
  • 2CNR, Institute for BioEconomy, Sesto Fiorentino - Firenze, Italy
  • 3Department of Earth, Environmental and Physical Sciences - University of Siena, Italy

Marine plastic litter is one of the most significant signal of the impact of human activities on the marine environment. Therefore, improved methods and models are needed to better understand the distribution pattern of plastics (mainly microplastics) on the sea surface, along the water column, and on the seabed. So far, most plastics sampling campaigns have collected sea surface data, but these data were very scattered and mostly unrepresentative of the seasonal variability of their distribution. A comprehensive overview of the presence of plastic litter in marine enviroment must rely on models having the skill to better represent spatial patterns, interactions with marine ecosystems, and even predict the possible presence of plastic clusters at a specific time and position. Numerous studies adopted models of plastic transport which consider some sources of pollution (rivers, ports, ship routes) to determine plastic distribution in the open sea due to meteo-marine forcing. However, most of these models have not been validated against field data.

In this presentation we show the results of a validation procedure of the modelled marine debris distributions expected in the North-Western Mediterranean between May and September 2019, through the comparison with field observations on the sea surface from campaigns carried out within the Interreg Med project Plastic Busters MPA. Marine debris observations show a significant variability, especially along the coasts, highlighting the need to employ a hydrodynamic model with a resolution much higher than that of basin-scale models. In the comparison between the observed and modelled surface plastic concentrations, the effect of model resolution will be specifically addressed.

How to cite: Brandini, C., Doronzo, B., Bendoni, M., Stefano, T., Maria, F., Massimo, P., Chiara, L., Panti, C., Baini, M., Galli, A., and Fossi, M. C.: Validation of marine plastic litter distribution models on the North-Western Mediterranean, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-12815,, 2022.

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