Quantcast

Plastic Trash Found in Arctic Ocean, Likely Forming Sixth Garbage Patch

Not even the Arctic Ocean is safe from marine pollution. In a study published last week in the journal Polar Biology, researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Germany found marine litter on the surface of Arctic waters.

It was the first litter survey conducted north of the Arctic Circle, and it shows that this trash makes its way to the "farthest reaches of the planet," according to AWI. “We found a total of 31 pieces of litter” in about a 3,500 mile area, said AWI biologist Dr Melanie Bergmann.

Though this number seems low, Bergmann and her team say they are certain there is much more litter in the Arctic region. “Since we conducted our surveys from the bridge, 18 meters above sea level, and from a helicopter, we were only able to spot the larger pieces of litter. Therefore, our numbers are probably an underestimate,” the marine biologist explained.

"We currently know of five garbage patches worldwide," said the researchers. Now they are hypothesizing that a sixth garbage patch is "most likely in the early stages of formation." Increasingly populated coastal areas, along with more and more cruise liners and fish trawlers operating further north, are driving the pollution in this remote part of the world's oceans.

And, clearly, far more ocean debris can be found below the surface. "In a previous study, Melanie Bergmann analyzed photographs from the deep Arctic seafloor for signs of plastic, glass and other types of litter," said AWI. "Her conclusion: in the time frame of 10 years the amount of litter in the deep sea has doubled with densities in a similar range to those from southern Europe. In fact, the litter density on the deep seafloor of the Fram Strait is 10 to 100 times higher than at the sea surface."

“On the deep Arctic seafloor, we found an average of 2.2 to 18.4 pieces of litter per kilometer of our route," said Bergmann. "This indicates that the deep seafloor may be the ultimate sink for marine litter.”

Marine pollution takes a devastating toll on our ocean environment. Last year, 5 Gyres Institute estimated in a groundbreaking study that there are 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the world’s oceans. Another study by the Plastic Disclosure Project and Trucost estimated that pollution is causing about $13 billion in damages to marine ecosystems each year.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

These 5 Countries Account for 60% of Plastic Pollution in Oceans

Koch Brothers Continue War on Solar in Sunshine State

Volkswagen to Release Electric Version of Its Iconic Hippie Van

85% of Tampons Contain Monsanto’s ‘Cancer Causing’ Glyphosate

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

With well over a billion cars worldwide, electric vehicles are still only a small percentage. An economist from the University of Michigan Energy Institute says that is likely to change. Maskot / Getty Images

In 2018, there were about 5 million electric cars on the road globally. It sounds like a large number, but with well over a billion cars worldwide, electric vehicles are still only a small percentage.

Read More
Nestlé is accelerating its efforts to bring functional, safe and environmentally friendly packaging solutions to the market and to address the global challenge of plastic packaging waste. Nestlé / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Nestlé, the world's largest food company, said it will invest up to $2 billion to address the plastic waste crisis that it is largely responsible for.

Read More
Sponsored
Determining the effects of media on people's lives requires knowledge of what people are actually seeing and doing on those screens. Vertigo3d / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Byron Reeves, Nilam Ram and Thomas N. Robinson

There's a lot of talk about digital media. Increasing screen time has created worries about media's impacts on democracy, addiction, depression, relationships, learning, health, privacy and much more. The effects are frequently assumed to be huge, even apocalyptic.

Read More
Indigenous people of various ethnic groups protest calling for demarcation of lands during the closing of the 'Red January - Indigenous Blood', in Paulista Avenue, in São Paulo, Brazil, Jan. 31, 2019. Cris Faga / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Raphael Tsavkko Garcia

Rarely has something so precious fallen into such unsafe hands. Since Jair Bolsonaro took the Brazilian presidency in 2019, the Amazon, which makes up 10 percent of our planet's biodiversity and absorbs an estimated 5 percent of global carbon emissions, has been hit with a record number of fires and unprecedented deforestation.

Read More
Microsoft's main campus in Redmond, Washington on May 12, 2017. GLENN CHAPMAN / AFP via Getty Images

Microsoft announced ambitious new plans to become carbon negative by 2030 and then go one step further and remove by 2050 all the carbon it has emitted since the company was founded in 1975, according to a company press release.

Read More