The FORTRAN project is a research collaboration between South African and Norwegian researchers and will explore the factors affecting the formation of microplastic (MP) fragments (<5 mm) from macroplastic litter items in the marine environment.
Studies will also investigate how the physical, chemical and biological properties of MP particles influence their fate and transport in marine coastal ecosystems. To investigate the influence of plastic additive chemicals on degradation processes, reference materials will include plastics with differing additive contents.
Methods will be developed to characterise and quantify the formation of nano- and MP particle degradation products and additive chemical leaching. FORTRAN will study the influence of plastic physicochemical properties, including additive chemical content, on microbial colonisation and biofilm formation. The role of biofilms on the vertical and lateral dispersal and transport of MP will also be investigated.
FORTRAN will develop models to predict plastic and MP degradation, biofilm formation and transport via ocean currents in the marine environment. The models will be developed and validated using data generated within the project. State of the art analytical and imaging instruments will characterise the test materials throughout the degradation and additive leaching studies.
Conceptual modelling within FORTRAN will:
- act as a basis for designing laboratory experiments
- utilise data generated within the project to develop a hydrodynamic model that will disperse simulated particles through the coastal zone. In situ validation of the model output will be conducted.
FORTRAN will establish a communication platform towards multiple stakeholder groups to ensure dissemination of the knowledge generated in the project. Furthermore, public engagement and increasing public awareness about the issue of marine litter and MP will be achieved through the activities of the Wildland Conservation Trust.
- SINTEF Ocean
- Stellenbosch University
- University of the Western Cape
The project is financed by The Research Council of Norway and the South African research council via the SANOCEAN program.
Project video made by WildOceans.