Anthropogenic litter in freshwater environments – Study on lake beaches evaluating marine guidelines and aerial imaging

Catégorie : Détection & Caractérisation
Date :30 octobre 2020
Hengstmann, Elena; Fischer, Elke Kerstin.
Environmental Research : 189
Studies on macroplastic pollution in freshwater systems are rare compared to the marine environment. Nevertheless, freshwater systems are worthy to be equally investigated as they are pathways of plastic to the ocean and lakes may act as (temporary) sinks. The aim of this study was to identify sources for plastics and influences on its distribution in a limnic environment. Anthropogenic litter (>5 mm) was monitored semi-annually over a three-year period at four sandy bank border segments of Lake Tollense in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany. The selected beaches represent different expositions and vary in their level of anthropogenic activity. Considering all six samplings, mean abundance of anthropogenic litter is 0.2 +/- 0.1 items/m(2) or 130.9 +/- 91.0 items/100 m beach length. The averaged mass of anthropogenic litter is 0.5 +/- 1.0 g/m(2) or rather 218.7 +/- 284.6 g/100 m. Plastic consistently is the predominate material (72%) and cigarette butts are the most found items. A higher pollution by anthropogenic litter is found at the end of tourist season unveiling the impact of anthropogenic activity on litter abundance. Additionally, litter transport via tributaries into the lake plays a role. Testing the detection of anthropogenic litter via aerial images taken by unmanned aerial vehicles resulted in good recovery rates when minimizing the flight height. Furthermore, the analysis of anthropogenic litter distribution displayed on the images showed litter accumulation areas at the border of sandy beach areas. The deployment of marine guidelines in a freshwater environment did work well, however, small changes in the protocol are suggested for future lake beach studies dealing with anthropogenic litter pollution.