TSU scientists at the Biological Institute have begun research to determine the distribution of microplastics in atmospheric precipitation in Siberia and the features of the transfer of microparticles by air currents. As part of the expedition to the Siberian Federal District, the staff of the TSU Biological Institute will survey a vast area from Biysk to the Arctic, with a total snow sampling route of 5,000 kilometers.
Biologists began collecting and analyzing rainwater and snow in the vicinity of Tomsk in the fall of 2020. Researchers carried out large-scale snow sampling in late February–early March because during this period the snow cover is thickest. The survey route includes points in different regions from Gorno Altai (Biysk, Belokurikha) to the Arctic (Tazovsky district). At each point, samples are taken three times for statistical processing of future data.
The first results of the analysis of atmospheric precipitation collected near Tomsk showed that they mainly contained fibers. Fragments of irregular shape and microspheres were found in smaller quantities. This is due to the low weight of the particles, which facilitates their transfer by air masses.
At the next stage of the project, scientists will conduct a laboratory analysis of new samples, assess the concentration of microplastics in solid atmospheric precipitation, and find out whether its level is affected by the proximity of roads and settlements.
Previously, scientists from TSU Biological Institute have analyzed the concentration of microplastics in the rivers of Siberia, and the digestive tract of fish. The study of precipitation and the regularities of the atmospheric transport of microparticles will significantly expand the complexity of research and help to understand what contribution Siberia makes to the global cycle of microplastic transport on the planet.