Factors Influencing the Spatial Variation of Microplastics on High-Tidal Coastal Beaches in Korea

  • In-Sung Kim
  • Doo-Hyeon Chae
  • Seung-Kyu Kim
  • SooBong Choi
  • Seung-Bum Woo


The presence and distribution characteristics of microplastics become a big issue due to the adverse effects on marine organisms caused by not only microplastics but any incorporated and/or adsorbed pollutants. Distribution of microplastics (50- to 5000-μm size) was determined for three sandy beaches on an isolated island in a high-tidal costal region to elucidate spatial distributions in relation to beach locations. The abundances of microplastics (n = 21) measured were 56–285,673 (46,334 ± 71,291) particles/m2 corresponding to the highest level globally. Out of observed polymer types, expanded polystyrene was overwhelmingly dominant. Although lying toward the estuary of the largest river in the country, the north-side beach contained a 100-fold lower abundance than two south-side beaches that faced southerly wind and currents that were prevalent throughout the study season. In addition, distinct differences between the beaches on either side were also present in terms of size distribution and spatial homogeneity of microplastics on the same beach. Winds and currents are therefore considered to be the driving forces in the distribution of microplastics.


Beach Sandy Beach Standing Stock Southerly Wind Marine Debris 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was a part of the project titled “Gyeonggi Sea Grant Program” funded by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and was also supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (Grant No. NRF-2013R1A1A2012696).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 3234 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • In-Sung Kim
    • 1
  • Doo-Hyeon Chae
    • 1
  • Seung-Kyu Kim
    • 2
    • 3
  • SooBong Choi
    • 4
  • Seung-Bum Woo
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Life SciencesIncheon National UniversityIncheonSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of Marine Science, College of Natural SciencesIncheon National UniversityIncheonSouth Korea
  3. 3.Research Institute of Natural SciencesIncheon National UniversityIncheonSouth Korea
  4. 4.Department of Physics, College of Natural SciencesIncheon National UniversityIncheonSouth Korea
  5. 5.Department of Ocean ScienceInha UniversityIncheonSouth Korea

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