Plastic pollution builds up in Arctic waters

NASA Continues Efforts To Monitor Arctic Ice Loss With Research Flights Over Greenland and Canada

But the newer patch in the Arctic is probably driven by deeper ocean movements.

And just like a conveyor belt, this current appears to be dragging trash from the north Atlantic Ocean all the way up to the Arctic.

The Arctic Ocean is accumulating a high concentration of plastic, broken down over time into smaller bits called microplastics - such as those pictured here.

Andrés Cózar Cabañas, lead author on the study and biology professor at the University of Cadiz, said that he was surprised by how much garbage there was in the Arctic water, and expressed concern about the consequences.

A new study published Wednesday in Science Advances found that the Arctic Ocean is accumulating high concentrations of plastics ― specifically in the Greenland and Barents seas.

'The fragmentation and typology of the plastic suggested an abundant presence of aged debris that originated from distant sources'.

He went on to say that industries, households, communities, and countries need to better manage their waste "because once plastic reaches the ocean, its destination and impacts become uncontrollable".

Levels of plastic found east of Greenland and in the Barents Sea off Norway and Russian Federation were far higher than expected for the sparsely populated regions, according to the report showing how man-made pollution extends even to remote parts of the globe.

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The report revealed how man-made pollution extends even to remote parts of the globe.

Researchers from University of Cádiz in Spain and other institutions around the world sampled pieces of plastic floating in the Arctic on an expedition in 2013, reports The Washington Post.

The pathway of plastic through the North Atlantic Ocean was also traced using 17,000 satellite buoys.

Much of the plastic was apparently old and had floated north from Europe and North America.

Polar latitudes were generally considered unlikely candidates as accumulation zones for marine plastic, because the human populations in those regions is very low, and hence can produce only a limited amount of pollution that will make its way to the ocean.

Global warming could open the Arctic to more pollution, partly as the extent of sea ice shrinks.

Northern fulmar birds on the Arctic Svalbard islands north of Norway, for instance, have been found with high levels of plastic in their stomachs from discarded plastic bags, fishing nets and other trash.

In the five big gyres to the south of the Arctic, wind drives currents on the ocean surface.

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