Skip to main content

Microplastics in the Snow Cover of Urban Landscapes: A Case Study of Barnaul


This article presents the results of a study of the spatial distribution of microplastic (MP) pollution of urban snow cover conducted on the territory of the Barnaul urban agglomeration. The algorithm of the study involves the following sequential steps: snow sampling, the identification of MP particles, a calculation of the total particle abundance in the sample, and a concentration assessment. In total, 49 snow samples from various parts of the city were taken for the study in the first decade of March 2021. They were stored in 3-L glass containers. MP particles were detected using a scanning electron microscope. MPs are found in all snow samples in concentrations from 27 to 595 items/L, with an average concentration of 125 items/L. The city of Barnaul is located on three natural landscapes: uvals of the Ob Plateau, a dell formed by an ancient river runoff with a ribbon forest, and the Ob Valley. The maximum amount of MP particles is found in the snow cover of the Ob Plateau and the minimum is in the Ob Valley. The next stage involved assessing the level of MP pollution of the city across six functional zones. Assessment results show that the maximum average concentration of MP particles in Barnaul during the winter period is typical for urban green spaces (parks and squares) in all districts of the city. The possible reasons for that are the continuous accumulation of snow in such areas throughout the entire cold weather period and the so-called “comb-out” effect associated with the ability of plants to filter particles of dry atmospheric deposition. The snow cover of Barnaul is found to contain MP particles of all five main shapes: granule, foam, fragment, film, and fiber.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig 1.
Fig. 2.


  1. Horton, A.A., Walton, A., Spurgeon, D.J., Lahive, E., and Svendsen, C., Microplastics in freshwater and terrestrial environments: Evaluating the current understanding to identify the knowledge gaps and future research priorities, Sci. Total Envir., 2017, vol. 586, pp. 127–141.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Shahul Hamid, F., Bhatti, M.S., Anuar, N., Anuar, N., Mohan, P., and Periathamby, A., Worldwide distribution and abundance of microplastic: How dire is the situation?, Waste Manag. Res., 2018, vol. 36, pp. 873–897.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Li, J., Liu, H., and Paul Chen, J., Microplastics in freshwater systems: A review on occurrence, environmental effects, and methods for microplastics detection, Water Res., 2018, vol. 137, pp. 362–374.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. World Economic Forum. 2016. The new plastics economy. Rethinking the future of plastics. https://www.

  5. Horton, A.A. and Dixon, S.J., Microplastics: An introduction to environmental transport processes, Wiley Interdiscipl. Rev., Water, 2018, vol. 5, p. e1268.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Brahney, J., Mahowald, N., Prank, M., Cornwell, G., Klimont, Z., Matsui, H., and Prather, K.A., Constraining the atmospheric limb of the plastic cycle, Proc. National Acad. Sci., 2021, vol. 118, p. e2020719.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Jambeck, G.R., Jr., Wilcox, C., Siegler, T.R., Perryman, M., Andrady, A., Narayan, R., and Law, K.L., Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean, Science, 2015, vol. 347, pp. 768–771.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Scheurer, M. and Bigalke, M., Microplastics in Swiss floodplain soils, Envir. Sci. Technol., 2018, vol. 52, pp. 3591−3598.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Ambrosini, R., Azzoni, R.S., Pittino, F., Diolaiuti, G., Franzetti, A., and Parolini, M., First evidence of microplastic contamination in the supraglacial debris of an alpine glacier, Envir. Pollut., 2019, vol. 253, pp. 297–301.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Aves, A.R., Revell, L.E., Gaw, S., Ruffell, H., Schuddeboom, A., Wotherspoon, N.E., LaRue, M., and McD-onald, A.J., First evidence of microplastics in Antarctic snow, The Cryosphere Discuss, 2022, in review.

  11. Parolini, M., Antonioli, D., Borgogno, F., Gibellino, M.C., Fresta, J., Albonico, C., De Felice, B., Canuto, S., Concedi, D., and Romani, A., Microplastic contamination in snow from western Italian Alps, Int. J. Envir. Res. Public Health, 2021, vol. 18, no. 2, p. 768.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Bergmann, M., Mutzel, S., Primpke, S., Tekman, M.B., Trachsel, J., and Gerdts, G., White and wonderful? Microplastics prevail in snow from the Alps to the Arctic, Sci. Adv., 2019, vol. 12, no. 5, pp. 592–599.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Dris, R., Gasperi, J., Rocher, V., Saad, M., Renault, N., et al., Microplastic contamination in an urban area: A case study in greater Paris, Envir. Chem., 2015, vol. 12, no. 5, pp. 592–599.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Klein, M. and Fischer, E.K., Microplastic abundance in atmospheric deposition within the metropolitan area of Hamburg, Germany, Sci. Total Envir., 2019, vol. 685, pp. 96–103.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Malygina, N.S., Biryukov, R.Yu., D’yachenko, A.V., Zolotov, D.V., Kuryatnikova, N.A., Mitrofanova, E.Yu., Pershin, D.K., Yashina, T.V., and Chernykh, D.V., Atmospheric intake of microparticles in the Katunsky Biosphere Reserve according to the data of a microscopic study of the snow cover, in Aerozoli Sibiri (Aerosols of Siberia), Tomsk: Inst. Opt. Atmos. Sib. Otdel. Ross. Akad. Nauk, 2020.

  16. Malygina, N.S., Biryukov, R.Yu., Zolotov, D.V., Kuryatnikova, N.A., Mitrofanova, E.Yu., Pershin, D.K., and Chernykh, D.V., Microplastics in the snow cover of the south of Western Siberia, ENVIROMIS 2020: Izbrannye trudy Mezhdunarodnoi konferentsii i shkoly molodykh uchenykh po izmereniyam, modelirovaniyu i informatsionnym sistemam dlya izucheniya okruzhayushchei (ENVIROMIS 2020: Selected Proceedings of the International Conference and School of Young Scientists on Measurement, Modeling and Information Systems for Environmental Studies) (Tomsk, 2020), Tomsk: Tomsk. Tsentr Nauchno-Tekhn. Inf., 2020, pp. 254–257.

  17. Resident population of the Russian Federation by municipalities as of January 1, 2021. Cited June 5, 2022.

  18. Ask, A., Anker-Nilssen, T., Herzke, D., Trevail, A.M., van Franeker, J.A., and Gabrielsen, G.W., Contaminants in northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) exposed to plastic. Report, Copenhagen K., Nordic Council of Ministers, 2016. record.jsf?pid=diva2%3A1010249&dswid=4912.

  19. Gniadek, M. and Dąbrowska, A., The marine nano- and microplastics characterisation by SEM-EDX: The potential of the method in comparison with various physical and chemical approaches, Mar. Pollut. Bull., 2019, vol. 148, pp. 210–216.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Kazmiruk, V.D., Mikroplastik v okruzhayushchei srede: narastayushchaya problema planetarnogo masshtaba (Microplastics in the Environment: A Growing Problem on a Planetary Scale), Moscow: Lenand, 2020.

  21. Dehghani, S., Moore, F., and Akhbarizadeh, R., Microplastic pollution in deposited urban dust, Tehran metropolis, Iran, Envir. Sci. Pollut. Res., 2017, vol. 24, pp. 20360–20371.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


Sampling and interpretation of results including landscape analysis was funded by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project no. 19-05-50055. Approbation of the methodology for determining microplastics and their forms was funded by the Russian Science Foundation under grant no. 21-17-00135.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding authors

Correspondence to D. V. Chernykh, R. Yu. Biryukov, N. A. Kuryatnikova or N. S. Malygina.

Additional information

Translated by A. Ovchinnikova

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Chernykh, D.V., Biryukov, R.Y., Kuryatnikova, N.A. et al. Microplastics in the Snow Cover of Urban Landscapes: A Case Study of Barnaul. Geogr. Nat. Resour. 43 (Suppl 1), S44–S49 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • microplastics
  • Barnaul
  • landscape
  • snow cover
  • functional zoning
  • electron microscope