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GALCIT Colloquium

Friday, October 7, 2022
3:00pm to 4:00pm
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Guggenheim 133 (Lees-Kubota Lecture Hall)
Microplastics at the ocean surface: waves, turbulence, and particles
Michelle DiBenedetto, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington,

Plastic pollution poses a critical threat to the world's oceans, but critical gaps in knowledge surrounding plastic fate and transport impede remediation and prevention efforts. Much of the plastic in the ocean exists as microplastics. Predicting the behavior of microplastics is non-trivial for two primary reasons: their physical properties (size and density) are fundamentally different from traditionally studied environmental particles like sediment and bubbles, and complex interactions among waves, turbulence, and particle inertia in the ocean surface boundary layer (where most microplastics reside) are not well-understood, especially for buoyant particles such as microplastics. In this talk, I will discuss the importance of surface waves in predicting the transport and distribution of microplastics. I will present results from both an analytical study and laboratory experiments of particles in wavy flows, and discuss these in the context of microplastic transport in the ocean.

For more information, please contact Nathaniel Wei and Peter Gunnarson by email at [email protected].