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Manuscript Submission Deadline 31 December 2023

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Microplastics (i.e., plastic polymers ...

Microplastics (i.e., plastic polymers <5 mm) are ubiquitous emergent contaminants and are widely reported in marine environments. The ready transportation of microplastics via coastal and oceanographic features and their ensuant presence in many pristine marine ecosystems has elevated international concern. Recent scientific studies and government white papers recommend further research to establish baseline marine microplastic contamination levels and reveal the complex environmental processes that influence microplastic distribution. This knowledge is critical to understanding exposure risks, effects and impacts of microplastics on marine ecosystems globally, and thus guide management strategies. However, there remain several challenges to achieving this. Monitoring of marine biotic and abiotic compartments at temporal and spatial scales can adequately capture changes in microplastic distributions, yet efforts to implement such programs are hampered by logistical and methodological hurdles that obfuscate systematic and harmonised workflows for sample collection, processing, analysis, and reporting. To address this, the microplastics research community has been concentrating efforts on the development and validation of standardised microplastic measurement strategies, including QA/QC, to facilitate monitoring initiatives, as well as numerical modelling to discover microplastic sources and accurately predict fates.

The overarching theme of this Research Topic is the long-term monitoring of marine microplastic contamination to understand prevalence and distribution in marine ecosystems worldwide.

This Research Topic calls for original research articles and literature reviews that examine the current knowledge of spatiotemporal levels of microplastic contamination, including past, present, and future estimated levels, in marine abiotic and biotic matrices. Discussions on methodological constraints and innovations that can affect the effectiveness and robustness of microplastic studies are encouraged, along with multidisciplinary studies (i.e., field data incorporating numerical modelling) that illustrate the link between spatiotemporal trends of microplastic contamination in various marine ecosystems and the factors that influence these (e.g., urbanization, source inputs, environmental conditions, biological factors). Novel research articles applying controlled experiments to refine and harmonise methods leading to the advancement of long-term marine microplastic measurement strategies are also welcome.

Keywords: pollution, environmental risk assessment, temporal, spatial, exposure

Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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