Experimental investigation on the nearshore transport of buoyant microplastic particles

Bjarke Eltard Larsen*, Mustafa Ali Abdullah Al-Obaidi, Hasan Gokhan Guler, Stefan Carstensen, Koray Deniz Goral, Erik Damgaard Christensen, Nils B. Kerpen, Torsten Schlurmann, David R. Fuhrman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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This paper presents experimental measurements of beaching times for buoyant microplastic particles released, both in the pre-breaking region and within the surf zone. The beaching times are used to quantify cross-shore Lagrangian transport velocities of the microplastics. Prior to breaking the particles travel onshore with a velocity close to the Lagrangian fluid particle velocity, regardless of particle characteristics. In the surf zone the Lagrangian velocities of the microplastics increase and become closer to the wave celerity. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that particles having low Dean numbers (dimensionless fall velocity) are transported at higher mean velocities, as they have a larger tendency to be at the free-surface relative to particles with higher Dean numbers. An empirical relation is formulated for predicting the cross-shore Lagrangian transport velocities of buoyant microplastic particles, valid for both non-breaking and breaking irregular waves. The expression matches the present experiments well, in addition to two prior studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114610
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Breaking waves
  • Buoyant particles
  • Lagrangian transport velocities
  • Microplastic particles
  • Non-breaking waves


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