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Plastic debris increases circadian temperature extremes in beach sediments


Lavers, JL and Rivers-Auty, J and Bond, AL, Plastic debris increases circadian temperature extremes in beach sediments, Journal of Hazardous Materials, 416 Article 126140. ISSN 0304-3894 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.126140


Plastic pollution is the focus of substantial scientific and public interest, leading many to believe the issue is well documented and managed, with effective mitigation in place. However, many aspects are poorly understood, including fundamental questions relating to the scope and severity of impacts (e.g., demographic consequences at the population level). Plastics accumulate in significant quantities on beaches globally, yet the consequences for these terrestrial environments are largely unknown. Using real world, in situ measurements of circadian thermal fluctuations of beach sediment on Henderson Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands, we demonstrate that plastics increase circadian temperature extremes. Particular plastic levels were associated with increases in daily maximum temperatures of 2.45C and decreases of daily minimum by -1.50C at 5cm depth below the accumulated plastic. Mass of surface plastic was high on both islands (Henderson: 571 197g/m2; Cocos: 3164 1989 g/m2), but did not affect thermal conductivity, specific heat capacity, thermal diffusivity, or moisture content of beach sediments. Therefore, we suggest plastic effects sediment temperatures by altering thermal inputs and outputs (e.g., infrared radiation absorption). The resulting circadian temperature fluctuations have potentially significant implications for terrestrial ectotherms, many of which have narrow thermal tolerance limits and are functionally important in beach habitats.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:marine debris, plastic pollution, remote island, sediment properties, temperature gradient, South Pacific, Indian Ocean
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Lavers, JL (Dr Jennifer Lavers)
UTAS Author:Rivers-Auty, J (Dr Jack Auty)
ID Code:144371
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:14
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2021-05-18
Last Modified:2021-11-24

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