Kunz, Alexander孔燕翔

MOST Research Scholar

Research Interests

My research interests are two-fold. Coming from a traditional education as Quaternary geologist I have specialized in geochronology mainly using optically stimulated luminescence dating. During my time as PhD student in Germany and as postdoctoral researcher in Taiwan I was involved in projects related to landscape evolution and paleoclimate. In recent years my interest in microplastic pollution of the environment grow larger. As a pioneer in microplastic research in Taiwan I started working on the pollution of beaches around Taiwan. Meanwhile my research has shifted to the aquatic environment, where I investigate the microplastic pollution of Taiwanese rivers.

Representative Publications

Schneider, F., Kunz, A.*, Hu, C.-S., Yen, N., Lin, H.-T. (2021): Rapid-survey methodology to assess litter volumes along large river systems – A case study of the Tamsui river in Taiwan. Sustainability 13 (16): 8765. (https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168765)

Wong, G., Löwemark, L., Kunz, A.* (2020): Microplastic pollution of the Tamsui River and its tributaries in northern Taiwan: Spatial heterogeneity and correlation with precipitation. Environmental Pollution 260: 113935. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2020.113935)

Lee, H., Kunz, A., Shim, W.J., Walther, B.A. (2019): Microplastic contamination of table salts from Taiwan, including a global review. Scientific Reports 9: 10145. (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-46417-z)

Bancin, L.J., Walther, B.A., Lee, Y.-C., Kunz, A.* (2019): Two-dimensional distribution and abundance of micro- and mesoplastic pollution in the surface sediment of Xialiao Beach, New Taipei City, Taiwan. Marine Pollution Bulletin 140: 75-85. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2019.01.028)

Walther, B.A., Kunz, A., Hu, C.-S. (2018). Type and quantity of coastal debris pollution in Taiwan: A 12-year nationwide assessment using citizen science data. Marine Pollution Bulletin 135: 862-872. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.08.025)

Kunz, A.*, Walther, B.A., Löwemark, L., Lee, Y.-C. (2016). Distribution and quantity of microplastic on sandy beaches along the northern coast of Taiwan. Marine Pollution Bulletin 111(1), 126-135. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.07.022)


Microplastic pollution of Taiwan’s rivers In recent years, plastic pollution of rivers has been identified as major contributor to the plastic pollution of oceans. Especially rivers in East Asia are considered as one of the most polluting rivers, which contribute nearly 70% of the global total. Additionally, rivers are an important source of fresh water and drinking water. Keeping rivers clean from pollutants is an important task. However, research related to plastic and microplastic pollution didn’t get much attention in Taiwan until recent years. Therefore, we started to investigate the pollution of major rivers. Our intense and detailed studies of rivers in Taipei and Taichung has shown widespread pollution with microplastic particles. Particularly in urban areas the levels of pollution are very high. However, the sources of microplastic in rivers are still unclear. Based on our findings we assume that microplastic is generated on land and flushed via storm sewers into the rivers. Moreover, we can fairly assume that all rivers in Taiwan, especially in the urban areas, are polluted with microplastic particles.

New age constrains for late glacial aeolian sands in Germany In a collaboration with the Technical University Darmstadt (Germany) we investigated late glacial aeolian sands that have been deposited in the northern Upper Rhine Graben. Generally, it was assumed that deposition of these sands happened in multiple phases during the last glaciation of northern Europe. But the age of the aeolian sands was mainly based on stratigraphic evidence and their location relative to the Rhine and Neckar rivers. Moreover, previous studies about the landscape evolution in the Upper Rhine Graben suggested a simultaneous deposition of loess and aeolian sands, but due to a lack of numerical ages this was never confirmed. Using OSL-dating we could show that the aeolian sands and loess in that area were deposited at the end of the last glaciation. Additionally, we could show that loess and sand deposition happened simultaneously only until 17 ka. Then loess deposition stopped but aeolian sand activity continued.

  • Dr. rer. nat.
    Leuphana University of Lüneburg,
    Germany (2010)
  • Dipl.-Geol. (MSc equivalent)
    Department of Geosciences,
    University of Cologne, Germany (2005)