The Ocean Plastic Incubator Chamber (OPIC) system to monitor in situ plastic degradation at sea
Marine plastic pollution is a global and pervasive environmental issue. Knowledge on plastic degradation in natural settings is still very limited due to current technological limitations, hampering our understanding of plastic fate (including its breakdown into micro- and nanoplastics) and of its risk for marine ecosystems. Here we present the proof of concept of the Ocean Plastic Incubator Chamber (OPIC), a novel equipment to follow plastic degradation in situ at sea over time. OPIC consists of a frame containing a motorised rotating stage with transparent tubes sub-assemblies where reference plastic materials are incubated and exposed to natural weathering conditions for defined time multi-years period. OPIC has been designed, tested and adapted for deployment with mooring line platforms in the open ocean with potential future application in remote environments at different depths (from shallow waters to deep sea environments). This incubator will allow us to measure different markers of plastic aging in situ in the ocean for the first time, providing new insights into the multiple and locally driven dynamics regulating plastic transformations and fate at sea.
Authors: Bergami, Elisa ORCID record for Elisa Bergami, Apeland, Bjorg, Sharma, Rad, Enderlein, Peter, Manno, Clara ORCID record for Clara Manno