Skip to main content

Postgraduate research project

Microplastics in the Southern Ocean: sources, fate and impacts

Fully funded (UK and international)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree
(View full entry requirements)
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

Alongside rapid climate change, plastic contamination of the ocean is a high-profile issue of growing global concern. Initial observations of plastic litter in the surface water and sediments of the Southern Ocean indicate the wide spread of these contaminants throughout the world’s ocean. The knowledge of abundance, distribution, and characteristics of the sub-millimetre plastic particles (microplastics) in the ocean interior and sediment remain scarce, while the transport pathways and processes controlling their supply to and fate therein are poorly understood. Addressing these fundamental questions is critical for understanding the risks from exposure to plastics, especially in such unique environments as Southern Ocean, where different water masses form and mix, shaping global circulation and climate.  This project offers a unique opportunity to explore microplastic loads in the Southern Ocean, how they change in relation to local physical and biogeochemical forcing, and how these contaminants are distributed by the large-scale circulation.  This research will provide new insight into processes and pathways governing the supply, distribution and fate of microplastics on regional and global scales. It will improve our understanding of the interactions, impacts and potential threats of these contaminants in the marine environment, so that adequate mitigation actions can be taken.

For full project details visit the Inspire project page.

Lead supervisor

  • Doctor Katsia Pabortsavai (National Oceanography Centre)


  • Doctor Anna Lichtschlag (National Oceanography Centre)
  • Professor Richard Lampitt (National Oceanography Centre)
  • Doctor Amber Annett (University of Southampton)
Back to top