While the low population at the Arctic Circle produces low amount of waste, a new study has shown that Greenland and Barents Seas are accumulating large amounts of plastic debris that is carried and trapped there by ocean currents which are said to have originated from the North Atlantic.
Talking about the accumulation of plastic and their effect on local wildlife as marine organisms, Dr van Sebille said, “The Arctic is one of the most pristine ecosystems we still have. And at the same time it is probably the ecosystem most under threat from climate change and sea ice melt. Any extra pressure on the animals in the Arctic, from plastic litter or other pollution, can be disastrous.”
The research was originally published in Science Advances and the research was conducted by a team from eight countries led by Professor Andrés Cózar from the University of Cadiz in Spain. The team went on to a five month long expedition to find out more about the pollution. Talking about the findings, Professor Cózar revealed, “The plastic concentrations in the Arctic waters were usually low, but we found an area located in the north of the Greenland and the Barents seas with quite high concentrations. There is continuous transport of floating litter from the North Atlantic, and the Greenland and Barents seas act as a dead-end for this poleward conveyor belt of plastic.”
The team also analyzed data from 17,000 satellite-tracked buoys floating on the surface of the ocean and the findings were obvious. Dr Van Sebille explained, “What is really worrisome is that we can track this plastic near Greenland and in the Barents Sea directly to the coasts of northwest Europe, the UK and the east coast of the US. It is our plastic that ends up there, so we have a responsibility to fix the problem.
“We need to stop the plastic from going into the ocean in the first place. Once the plastic is in the ocean, it’s too diffusive, too small and too intermingled with algae to easily filter out. Prevention is the best cure.”
Featured Image: Pixabay/jackmac34