A group of scientists discovered the origin of the microplastics in the Arctic

The Arctic is under serious threat from microplastics

by Lorenzo Ciotti
A group of scientists discovered the origin of the microplastics in the Arctic

A group of researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany, led by Melanie Bergmann, Anna Natalie Meyer and Birgit Lutz, in a study published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, in which they discovered that microplastics in the Arctic would originate in different parts of the world.

The team analyzed the origin of the debris collected on the coasts of Svalbard with the help of people. For the past 5 years, they have asked those who have traveled by sailboat in the Arctic to collect the plastic fragments found along the coasts.

They then analyzed these remains, discovering that over 30% of the samples that still bore labels came from Europe, with a significantly high proportion originating from Germany. Melanie Bergmann explained: "From 2016 to 2021 we involved people in the collection of the material.

We then analyzed the residues and discovered that only 1% had inscriptions or labels that made it possible to reconstruct their origin. To address the problem effectively we need to improve local waste management and reduce global plastic production.

It is estimated that around 11% of plastic products reach waterways, but we cannot afford this level of pollution. Not anymore, at least." Natalie Meyer analyzed: "Previous studies have shown that plastic pollution comes from both local and remote sources. At the local level, plastic is released into the ocean by communities that rely on poor waste management systems, while the fragments remote are carried by rivers and ocean currents."

The Arctic is under serious threat from microplastics

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."