Slovenian scientists are the first in the world to find microplastics in hailstones. According to the researchers, microplastics may also have contributed to the formation of large ice balls or lumps.
The Kolba River region in southeastern Slovenia was hit by a severe hailstorm in June 2019. The size of hailstones was up to 13 cm. Huge hailstones formed 11 kilometers above the Earth’s surface in the troposphere, the lowest layer of the atmosphere.
Researchers from the University of Ljubljana, among others, analyzed hailstones. In addition to bacteria and sedimentary particles from the desert sands, they also found many fine particles.
Microplastics are small pieces of plastic less than 5 mm in size that end up in the environment. This proves that fibrous particles can travel thousands of kilometers above the Earth’s surface and high in the troposphere, says the research report.
“We are pleased to be the first to prove the presence of microplastics in the troposphere,” said researcher Manca Kovac-Firsek. “Previous studies were conducted only a few meters above the Earth’s surface and no results have been published before in the troposphere.” Press conference statement.
Researchers cannot say for sure that plastic particles were the only factor contributing to the formation of giant hailstones three years ago. This requires more research.
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