The links between marine plastic litter and the air-sea flux of greenhouse gases

Lonneke Goddijn-Murphy, David K. Woolf, Ryan Pereira, Christa A. Marandino, Adrian H. Callaghan, Jacek Piskozub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


Climate change and plastic pollution are two of the most pressing environmental challenges caused by human activity, and they are directly and indirectly linked. We focus on the relationship between marine plastic litter and the air-sea flux of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Marine plastic litter has the potential to both enhance and reduce oceanic GHG fluxes, but this depends on many factors that are not well understood. Different kinds of plastic behave quite differently in the sea, affecting air-sea gas exchange in different, largely unknown, ways. The mechanisms of air-sea exchange of GHGs have been extensively studied and if air-sea gas transfer coefficients and concentrations of the gas in water and air are known, calculating the resulting GHG fluxes is reasonably straightforward. However, relatively little is known about the consequences of marine plastic litter for gas transfer coefficients, concentrations, and fluxes. Here we evaluate the most important aspects controlling the exchange of GHGs between the sea and the atmosphere and how marine plastic litter could change these. The aim is to move towards improving air-sea GHG flux calculations in the presence of plastic litter and we have largely limited ourselves to identifying processes, rather than estimating relative importance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1180761
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2023


  • carbon cycling
  • air-sea interaction
  • air-sea gas transfer
  • marine plastic litter
  • climate change
  • greenhouse gasses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Aquatic Science
  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change


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