Arctic ice algae are full of microplastics

The concentrations of these pollutants are even 10 times higher than those found in the surrounding waters

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Arctic ice algae are full of microplastics

The discovery comes from a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, led by the German Alfred Wegener Institute. A particular species of seaweed widespread in the Arctic, which grows under the sea ice, was found to be heavily contaminated by microplastics: the concentrations of these pollutants are even 10 times higher than those found in the surrounding waters.

The alga Melosira arctica grows rapidly under sea ice during the spring and summer months, forming long chains of cells. The problem is particularly serious because these algae, called Melosira arctica, are at the base of the food chain and therefore put at risk all the creatures that depend on this organism, directly or indirectly.

During the spring and summer months, Melosira arctica grows rapidly under the sea ice, where it forms meter-long cell chains. As the cells die and the ice melts, they coalesce to form clumps that in a single day can sink several thousand meters to the seabed where they are an important food source for seabed-dwelling animals and bacteria.

In addition to food, however, these aggregates also carry a dangerous cargo into the deep seas of the Arctic

Arctic ice algae are full of microplastics

Melanie Bergmann, who led the study, said: 'Scientific studies have shown that the most effective way to reduce plastic pollution is to reduce the production of new plastics.

This should therefore be the priority in the global agreement on plastics currently underway. negotiation stage." When these die and when the ice to which they are attached melts, the algae aggregate into aggregates that quickly sink to the bottom of the sea, where they become an important food source for animals and bacteria.

As researchers led by Bergmann have shown, these organisms also carry a heavy load of microplastics with them. Detailed analysis of plastic composition has shown that a variety of different materials are found in the Arctic, including polyethylene, polyester, polypropylene, nylon, acrylic and many others.

In addition to various chemicals and dyes, this creates a mix of substances whose impact on the environment and living creatures is difficult to assess.