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

Despite huge strides in improving the lives of children since 1989, many of the world's poorest are being left behind, the United Nations children's fund UNICEF warned Monday.

Read More Show Less
At least seven people have died in a Bangladesh pipeline explosion. Youtube screenshot

At least seven people were killed when a gas pipeline exploded in Bangladesh Sunday, and another 25 were injured, the Associated Press reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The Shell Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes, Washington. John Westrock / Flickr

The Washington Department of Ecology responded to an oil spill that took place Friday night when a Crowley Maritime Barge was transferring five million gallons of oil to the Shell Puget Sound Refinery, CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Claire L. Jarvis

A ruckus over biofuels has been brewing in Iowa.

Read More Show Less
Serena and Venus Williams have been known to follow a vegan diet. Edwin Martinez / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Whitney E. Akers

  • "The Game Changers" is a new documentary on Netflix that posits a vegan diet can improve athletic performance in professional athletes.

  • Limited studies available show that the type of diet — plant-based or omnivorous — doesn't give you an athletic advantage.

  • We talked to experts about what diet is the best for athletic performance.

Packed with record-setting athletes displaying cut physiques and explosive power, "The Game Changers," a new documentary on Netflix, has a clear message: Vegan is best.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
An illegally trafficked tiger skull and pelt. Ryan Moehring / USFWS

By John R. Platt

When it comes to solving problems related to wildlife trade, there are an awful lot of "sticky widgets."

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Inflammation can be both good and bad.

On one hand, it helps your body defend itself from infection and injury. On the other hand, chronic inflammation can lead to weight gain and disease.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Dan Nosowitz

It's no secret that the past few years have been disastrous for the American farming industry.

Read More Show Less