Constraining the Atmospheric Limb of the Micro Plastics Cycle

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Prof. Natalie Mahowald

Irving Porter Church Professor of Engineering

Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Cornell University

Monday April 19, 2021, 2 PM EST



Using a combination of detailed deposition data from the western US and an atmospheric model, we optimally constrain the sources of micro plastics, based on different hypothesized sources. Important assumptions about the size and shape, as well as source distributions impact the deduced sources. Here we show first analyses of the US and global micro plastics cycle, and the uncertainties in these estimates. Future directions which could help constrain these sources are also discussed.


Natalie Mahowald is the Irving Porter Church Professor of Engineering in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University, and the Co-Leader, Working Group on Reducing Climate Risk for Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability. Her research group is focused on understanding feedbacks in the earth system that impact climate change. This includes global and regional scale atmospheric transport of biogeochemically important species such as desert dust, as well as the carbon cycle. Her group look at these issues through a combination of 3-dimensional global transport and climate models, as well as analysis of satellite and in situ data. She has a PhD in Meteorology from MIT, MS in Natural Resource Policy from UMichigan, and is a fellow of AMS, AGU and AAAS, and has been a lead author on two IPCC reports.


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Apr 19 2021


John Xun Yang