Plastic waste is so widespread in the world’s oceans that it has now found its way to the Arctic Ocean.
A group of scientists called the Arctic Mission used nets with holes smaller than a millimeter to sieve for microplastics in the water. The team will now analyze the samples in labs to determine the current pollution levels in the Arctic.
There are a number of efforts underway to try and address ocean plastic, but it’s estimated more than five trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in the world’s oceans.
The Telegraph has the story:
Scientists fear there is now enough plastic to form a permanent layer in the fossil record.
Dr Ceri Lewis, scientific adviser to the expedition based at the University of Exeter, said: “Many rivers lead into the Arctic Ocean that are often a source of plastic pollution, but plastic pollution has been literally trapped into the ice.
“Now the ice is melting we believe microplastics are being released into the Arctic. The Arctic is thought to be a hot spot of microplastics accumulation due to the number of rivers that empty into the Arctic basin, yet we have very little data to support this idea in the more northerly parts of the Arctic Ocean.
“This is really important data to collect as the Arctic supports many key fisheries which might be impacted but the presence of microplastics.”
The team are is investigating the impact of man-made noise pollution on Arctic marine life and mammals, which can be particularly sensitive to sound.