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Transport of Floating Plastics Along a Channel with a Vegetated Riverbank

Author(s): Manousos Valyrakis; Jokha Khalid Al Hinai; Da Liu

Linked Author(s): Manousos Valyrakis

Keywords: No Keywords

Abstract: Floating micro-plastics accumulating into oceans across the world, primarily via fluvial systems, has been a growing concern receiving increased recognition, over the last decade. It is estimated that the amount of plastic that flows into oceans each year is between 5 and 13 million tons. This is a growing challenge of our consumer society, as disposable plastics that break up but do not break down, are virtually used in our life on a daily basis. Non-recycled plastics which are not handled in a responsible manner, can be dispersed and introduced into the river network (from land via aeolian transport, and from untreated waste and storm water), where they may be temporarily stored as floating debris or deposited sediment, until mobilized again during high flow and flooding events. In this manner, the fluvial network becomes a pathway for the transport of plastics into the ocean. There has been little research considering the issue of transportation of floating particles along the river system, which contributes to the global challenge of plastics pollution. Here, preliminary results, from experimental observations studying the mechanisms facilitating the transport and capturing of floating plastics, are presented. Specifically, a big number of flume experiments has been designed, conducted and analyzed using visual tracking techniques to estimate the average transport velocity of floating particles of different sizes and shapes, released from different locations across a wide channel with a simulated vegetated riverbank. Focus is also given to the trapping mechanisms along the riverbank vegetation, for a range of vegetation densities and arrangements, aiming to quantify and offer evidence for which parameter has the most effect. These results may be used for strategically placing vegetation along river systems, and vegetating river corridors with appropriate species and density of riparian vegetation, so as to allow managing plastic pollution in a more robust manner.

DOI:

Year: 2018

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