Residence times of microplastics were estimated based on the dependence of meso- and macrolitter residence times on their upward terminal velocities (UTVs) in the ocean obtained by one- and two-year mark-recapture experiments conducted on Wadahama Beach, Nii-jima Island, Japan. A significant linear relationship between the residence time and UTV was found in the velocity range of about 0.3–0.9 ms− 1, while there was no significant difference between the residence times obtained in the velocity range of about 0.9–1.4 ms− 1. This dependence on the UTV would reflect the uprush-backwash response of the target items to swash waves on the beach. By extrapolating the linear relationship down to the velocity range of microplastics, the residence times of microplastics and the 1D onshore-offshore diffusion coefficients were inferred, and are one to two orders of magnitude greater than the coefficients of the macroplastics.
Hirofumi Hinata, Keita Mori, Kazuki Ohno, Yasuyuki Miyao, Tomoya Kataoka, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 16 June 2017, In Press