Professor Jamie Woodward, Professor of Physical Geography and Head of the Department of Geography at The University of Manchester, will tell us about research in the Department of Geography at the University of Manchester which has shone a light on a new contamination issue in UK rivers. Microplastics are present in all the rivers of the region from the Pennine headwaters to the city of Manchester. One reach in the River Tame has the highest concentration of microplastics so far recorded in any aquatic environment worldwide. This talk will set out the background to this microplastics research and show how the major floods in the winter of 2015/2016 allowed the first measurements of microplastics transport through a river network. A key finding of this research is the demonstration that heavily populated urban rivers are the main supplier of microplastics to the oceans.
Jamie will explore the wider significance of this research and argue that to tackle the problem we need to better understand the sources and associated river basin processes, improve our management of wastewater, and change our behaviour.