(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from the Institute of Polar and Marine Research. Alfred Wegener, Germany, found that plastic pollution has reached all areas of the Arctic.
High concentrations of microplastics can be found in water, on the seafloor, on remote beaches, in rivers, and even in ice and snow.
And most importantly, the levels of pollution in these deserted places can be compared with what scientists observe in cities.
The problem of microplastics seems tiny and insignificant to us, because we do not see the terrible consequences of this pollution. However, scientists are already saying that we can be seriously affected by this.
Today, between 19 and 23 million metric tons of plastic waste enters the world’s waters every year – that’s two trucks a minute.
Since plastic decomposes very slowly, it accumulates in the oceans, where it gradually breaks down into smaller pieces – from micro- to nano-plastic.
In this form, it can even enter the human blood. Alas, experts say that the flow of garbage will only increase: by 2045, global plastic production is expected to double.
Scientists note that almost all studied marine organisms today – from plankton to sperm whales – come into contact with plastic debris and microplastics.
This applies to all regions of the world ocean. As a new study shows, the High North is no exception. “The Arctic is still considered largely untouched wilderness,” says expert Dr. Melanie Bergmann.
Although the Arctic is sparsely populated, its levels of plastic pollution are the same as in densely populated regions around the world. Pollution comes from both local and distant sources.
This is especially facilitated by ocean currents from the Atlantic and the North Sea, as well as from the northern part of the Pacific Ocean through the Bering Strait. Tiny microplastic particles are also carried northward by the wind.
In addition, rivers also worsen the situation. Although the Arctic Ocean makes up only 1% of the total volume of the world’s oceans, it receives more than 10% of the discharge of water from rivers that carry plastic to the ocean, such as from Siberia.
When seawater off the coast of Siberia freezes in autumn, suspended microplastics become trapped in the ice. The transpolar drift carries ice floes into the strait between Greenland and Svalbard, where they melt in the summer, releasing their plastic cargo.
Some of the most important local sources of pollution are municipal waste and sewage from Arctic communities, as well as plastic litter from ships, especially fishing boats, whose nets and ropes are a major problem.
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