Microplastic pollution also in the Arctic fjord water

In the context of global warming, from satellite observations and other studies, over the last 40 years, a marked decrease in both the surface and volume of Arctic ice has been recorded

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Microplastic pollution also in the Arctic fjord water

In the context of global warming, from satellite observations and other studies, over the last 40 years, a marked decrease in both the surface and volume of Arctic ice has been recorded. Summer 2012 is remembered for the minimum extension ever reached of the frozen surface.

2011 recorded very low ice surface extensions, in line with 2007, removing the possibility of a recovery of the ice surface that seemed possible from the 2008 and 2009 data. Since the Arctic is essentially an ocean surrounded by land, the climate is mitigated by the water which never has a temperature below −2 °C.

In winter, the presence of water keeps the climate harsh, albeit milder than that of Antarctica . This is basically the reason why Antarctica's climate is so much harsher than the Arctic. In the summer season, however, the sea helps to keep the coastal areas warmer than the hinterland, as is the case for temperate regions with a maritime climate.

Investigation of microplastic pollution in Arctic fjord water: a case study of Rijpfjorden, Northern Svalbard, article published on the Environmental science and pollution research international, said: "Microplastic contamination is an emerging issue in the marine environment including the Arctic.

However, the occurrence of microplastics in the Arctic fjords remains less understood. Sample collections were conducted by trawling horizontally in surface water (0-0.4-m depth) and trawling vertically in the water column (0-200-m depth) to investigate the abundance, composition, and distribution of microplastics in the Rijpfjorden, Northern Svalbard, in the summer of 2017.

Laser Direct Infrared chemical imaging technique was applied for the counting and identification of microplastic particles.A total of 1010 microplastic particles and 14 mesoplastics were identified from 41,038 particles in eight samples from the Rijpfjorden.

The abundance of microplastics larger than 300 µm was 0.15 ± 0.19 n/m3 in surface water, and 0.15 ± 0.03 n/m3 in the water column of the Rijpfjorden.The microplastic particles identified in Rijpfjorden water consisted of 10 types of polymers.

The dominant micropla stics are polyurethane, polyethylene, polyvinyl acetate, polystyrene, polypropylene, and alkyd varnish. Historical ship activities and newly melted sea ice might be major sources of microplastics in the seawater of Rijpfjorden.

In general, contamination of microplastics larger than 300 µm in Rijpfjorden water is at a low level in comparison to other polar waters. Further research is needed to confirm the origin and fate of microplastics below 300 µm in Arctic fjords."