Trillions of plastic pieces float away, polluting the Arctic waters. The oceans are littered with fishing nets, toys, bags, bottles and many other plastic items, most of them are found small particles. All this junk managed to reach the Arctic. A new study published on April 19 in Science Advances reveals that a major ocean current continues to carry chunks of plastic from the North Atlantic to Greenland and Barents seas and leaves them there.
- The world’s oceans are affected by plastic pollution.
- A massive amount of plastic pieces affects the habitat of marine animals, entering the food chain.
- Scientists indicate that 3% of ocean’s plastic pollution was found in the Arctic Ocean.
This litter remains in sea ice, surface waters and most likely on the ocean floor, too. Climate change is already affecting the Arctic sea ice. Moreover, human activity in this area is increasing because navigation became easier. Thus, plastic pollution has substantially grown all over the world starting with 1980. This could spread even more widely during the upcoming decades.
Andres Cozar Cabanas, a professor of biology at the University of Cadiz and the lead author of the new study, stated that he is extremely worried about the results of this plastic pollution affecting the habitat of so many marine animals. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of the harm they cause when disposing plastic pieces into the water. The consequences of plastic pollution on ocean waters are devastating. In the Arctic ecosystem, these consequences will be harsh since this area cannot be compared to any other on Earth.
Statistics indicate that approximately 8 million tons of plastic pieces are found into the ocean every year. Scientists estimate that the total amount of plastic litter which got into the ocean may be of 110 million tons. Even if the environmental effects of pollution with plastic are not completely understood by everyone, this type of contamination has affected the food chain. Big patches of plastic pieces have accumulated, most of them in subtropical gyres.
Researchers claim that approximately 1% of plastic patches are found in these gyres while the rest surface the waters, floating in the open ocean. A different model of ocean currents developed by another scientist suggested that plastic litter could compile reaching the Arctic Ocean, especially the Barents Sea. Approximately 3% of the total amount of plastic debris found in the world’s ocean is now in the Arctic water.
Nevertheless, scientists predict that this amount is likely to grow in the future and many such plastic pieces may form a layer on the ocean floor. What do you think authorities should do to annihilate this problem?
Image courtesy of: flickr