The cross-project synthesis paper of the Research Focus “Plastics in the Environment” provides an overview of the different models for calculating the inputs of microplastics into the environment. The authors summarise the overall scope of the models and point out where there is a lack of data or a stringent model structure.
The synthesis paper provides readers with a rough overview of the models used in the BMBF Research Focus "Plastics in the Environment" and which areas of microplastic inputs they cover. The paper is based on model profiles that describe the main characteristics and properties of the individual models.
While it is already well mapped how particles enter the environment and are transported in water bodies, according to the authors, important basics are missing to be able to estimate the stress dynamics of soils and water bodies. Since important information for understanding the entire system is still missing in microplastics research and the models will continue to provide only selective information in the foreseeable future, it is eminently important for research development to further evolve the models with regard to an improved understanding of the system. The models should help to assess the relevance of emission sources and input pathways in order to derive options for actions to minimise inputs.
This paper was written as a follow-up to two workshops on 28 March 2019 and 8 June 2020 of the modelling research groups from the three projects MicBin, MicroCatch_Balt and PLAWES, which quantify (micro)plastic sources and pathways within three river basins in Germany (MicBin: Danube; MicroCatch_Balt: Warnow; PLAWES: Weser).