, , , ,

Heaps of plastic in Arctic ocean

Amsterdam, 20 April 2017 – Not just the 5 world oceans are polluted by plastic. Parts of the Arctic Ocean are also full of it: up to hundred thousands of pieces per square kilometer. Researchers even speak of a sixth ‘garbage patch’ in the report that was published in scientific journal Science Advances earlier this week.

In 2013 an international team of oceanographers went on an expedition to the polar region to map plastic pollution. They discovered that the pollution is not spread evenly. A large area of the water around the North Pole is practically plastic-free. This mostly occurs to the north of Canada and Siberia.

However, the garbage concentration between Greenland and Nova Zembla is far greater than expected. The researchers estimate that around 300 billion pieces of plastic are floating in the Arctic Ocean. These are tiny pieces of plastic not much bigger than a grain of rice.

“Part of our own plastic ends up in the Artic Ocean,” said oceanographer Erik Sebille of Utrecht University in a dialogue with PSF director Maria Westerbos in a broadcast on BNR news radio today. Most of the Arctic plastic turns out to be from the Western world. Garbage that enters the ocean via the east coast of the United States and the west coast of Europe are carried to the polar region on the gulf stream.

The findings correspond with computer models that predicted this effect before. According to the employed ocean current models a reduction of the European plastic pollution could seriously reduce the amount of plastic in the Arctic Ocean.