Measuring Marine Litter density, mass and composition – including a case study on land-based litter along the Danube

Marine litter, i.e. solid waste material that enters the marine environment from any source, is an increasing problem, and gains more public attention, when for example the media is reporting of the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’. It furthermore negatively affects environment, economy and society. This thesis presents the results of a literature review of more than 190 scientific articles that determined marine litter quantities and composition at beaches, the sea surface and the sea floor between 2003 and August 2014. Their methods and results are being displayed and, where possible, compared. Thus, this thesis gives an overview of possible methods for monitoring marine macro- and micro-debris, as well as marine litter quantities and composition world-wide. This is completed by an excursus to aquatic litter, i.e. solid waste material present in and along rivers and lakes. A small survey along the bank of the river Danube, south of Vienna, showed that litter quantities and composition are comparable to marine litter on beaches world-wide, although the mass of items found at the Danube was higher per length of coastline than at beaches. The thesis shows that marine litter is ubiquitous and that a combination of different countermeasures will be needed to combat it.

Master’s thesis
Nele Sophie Schüttpelz, Institut für Abfallwirtschaft, Universität für Bodenkultur Wien, 2014

The document

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