The fate of the vast majority of plastic waste is unknown. Due to biofouling or degradation by visible and ultraviolet light, floating waste ultimately settles, though this process can take months, years or even centuries. Even after settling, particles may be re-suspended again by currents, waves and turbulence. Predicting plastic waste transport involves wide-ranging problems including how various-shaped particles interact with waves and turbulence, how biological and inorganic processes transform buoyant particles allowing them to settle, and how these microscale dynamics may be captured by coastal, submesoscale and global ocean models.

The Euromech colloquium will address these issues by bringing together mathematicians, engineers, geoscientists and physical oceanographers examining the fluid mechanics problem of predicting the transport, dispersion, deposition and resuspension of microplastics in lakes, rivers, the coastal oceans and beyond. In addition, the meeting aims to foster new collaborations between researchers with diverse backgrounds but a common interest in predicting the fate of plastic pollution.