Spatial distribution of foreshore litter on the northwest European continental shelf

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Foreshore litter data from a UK citizen-science programme, combined with OSPAR data, were analysed for possible spatial patterns around Scottish and North Sea coastlines. Loading distributions were positively skewed, and statistics commensurate with such distributions were used. When considering coast type, litter loadings on Scottish harbour and river foreshores were influenced by local litter sources. When considering exposure to the predominant westerly winds over Scotland, litter loadings on the west coast (i.e. predominant onshore winds) were greater on foreshores on open coasts compared to those within embayments. The opposite was true for the Scottish east coast (i.e. predominantly offshore winds). The north east coast of the UK appeared to have an organised pattern of plastic litter loading, increasing in magnitude (median) and spread (inter quartile range) in the direction of the coastal flow. Four other coastal segments with similar patterns were suggested from the west of Scotland to Denmark.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-594
Number of pages12
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Beach litter
  • Indicators
  • Monitoring
  • Northwest European shelf
  • Spatial variation


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