Plastics have been polluting water, the deep sea, and even distant parts of the Arctic. Scientists have recently found plastic concentrations in floating ice in the Fram Strait, a corridor that links the frozen Arctic Ocean to the rest of the world’s oceans.
Their findings, published in Science Advances, provide additional evidence that increased plastic production is affecting the environment in unexpected new ways.
The research was led by Dr. Melanie Bergmann of Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research. Bergmann and a group of scientists analyzed and compared ice samples from the Arctic, the Swiss Alps and certain regions of Germany, while the level of small plastic materials they found was much lower in the Arctic. In comparison with the populated areas, it is still large, and on average the sample from the ice analysis contained 1,760 fine plastic particles per liter.
The result is worrying, as the Arctic is an unpopulated area, where scientists believe polyethylene, polystyrene, and polypropylene has made a long journey to the Arctic from urban areas by wind and rain, where scientists have also found plastics in other regions such as China, Paris and France.