News and Society

Theres Trillion Pieces Of Plastic In Our Oceans and Its Now Started Polluting The North Pole

By Era Kapoor
  • Sep 28, 2017
  • 101 views

A few months ago, researchers discovered a patch of garbage floating in the Arctic Ocean just north of Norway.

 

 

Now, another team has spotted a more problematic garbage heap; large chunks of polystyrene on ice floes in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.

Images courtesy: Conor Mcdonnell/Exeter University

IMAGES COURTESY: CONOR MCDONNELL/EXETER UNIVERSITY

The discovery was made by a British-led expedition, just 1,600 kilometres from the North Pole. Not only are scientists worried by how the plastic has reached such a remote location, but also by the fact that their polluting effects don’t end at floating around on ice at the top of the world.

The team, lead by marine biologist Tim Gordon from Exeter University made the discovery in areas hundreds of miles from land, previously covered by ice all year round. But the problem isn’t just that that plastic is littering the North Pole; the bigger worry is that it’s all breaking down into ‘microplastics, which are then consumed by wildlife and spread through the food chain.

 

 

The only reason the team was able to make the discovery is because the year-round ice cover in that area of the central Arctic Ocean has melted, letting them go further than any other yacht in history. Ironically, that’s thought to be the work of climate change, another of our “gifts” to Earth.

"Finding pieces of rubbish like this is a worrying sign that melting ice may be allowing high levels of pollution to drift into these areas,” Gordon said. “This is potentially very dangerous for the Arctic’s wildlife."

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