Ocean

Plastic Waste Reached Arctic Sea

It is a really sad news that reaches us from the Arctic. Around the North Pole German researchers found plastic waste. Large parts of the garbage found during the trip through the Fram Strait. With the naked eye you could spot tons of garbage.

PolarStern Expedition
The German polar research vessel Polarstern in very calm waters.

Plastic Waste Reached Arctic Sea, tons of garbage everywhere…

It is one of the first waste counts North of the Arctic Circle, which have performed research of the Alfred-Wegener-Institut Bremerhaven and the Belgian laboratory for Polar ecology. 31 garbage items discovered the scientists on their ride through the Fram Strait – the sea area between Greenland and Spitsbergen.

arbage in the sea is a worldwide problem
Drinking Cups, plastic bas and many more on the beach of Rhodes: garbage in the sea is a worldwide problem.
Plastic litter in the shallow waters of Kalithea Rhodos (Mediterranean Sea)

Plastic Waste Reached Arctic Sea must surprise at closer consideration but that remains of bottles, bags and other man-made garbage can go ever there and floating on the water surface.

“Since we made the counts from the ship’s bridge, so 18 meters above the sea surface, or by boarding a helicopter, we have recorded of course large floating debris first and foremost. Our figures are therefore likely to”an understatement of the actual waste stock, Melanie Bergmann explains of the Alfred Wegener Institute.

Plastic bag at a depth of 2500 m on the bottom of the sea
Plastic bag at a depth of 2500 m on the bottom of the sea in the Fram Strait between Greenland and Spitsbergen: even bulk-waste has pioneered Meanwhile are up in the Arctic.

Thus, the biologist mainly due to the fact stands out that plastic waste decompose after a while in the sea in large particles of millimetre – the so-called micro plastic.

Trash density in the Arctic deep sea significantly higher

In the Arctic, the waste in the first place is seabirds undoing, which keep the driving plastic parts for prey. But plastic residues were found already in the stomachs of Greenland sharks. Also the garbage for the animals not only then becomes a danger, if he is eaten. Repeatedly birds at so-called six pack rings strangled so those plastic cords that hold together canned drink packs. These six carriers made of polyethylene were largely replaced in Germany by packaging made of cardboard for environmental reasons.

Drift ice in the Fram Strai
Drift ice in the Fram Strait: there, researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute found 31 pieces of garbage with the naked eye, which floated on the surface of the sea.

Already in a previous study the biologist Bergmann by using photographs had searched the seabed of the Fram Strait plastic and glass waste. Therefore found there ten to a hundred times more waste than at the surface. “In the Arctic we find on average 2.2 to 18.4 waste parts per kilometer journey into the deep sea. For us this is an indication that waste ultimately falls on the ocean floor and accumulates in the deep sea as in a repository Bergmann explains.

Projects for the collection of plastic waste

Opportunities, plastic in the sea to reduce the hazard, working on already; including the concept of ecologically degradable plastic for food industry. Media attention also receives the young Boyan slat. His not undisputed plan: In the project “The Ocean Cleanup” the Dutch want to capture plastic waste in the oceans with huge floating barriers.

Gannet on Helgoland use remains of fishing nets as a building material
Gannet on Helgoland use remains of fishing nets as a building material for their nests: plastic waste in the sea is a growing threat to the nature. Even North of the Arctic Circle, researchers have found now large pieces of plastic waste, which floats on the sea.

The 31 items of waste have been identified on the surface of the Arctic sea, and the countless other deep sea could come from a new garbage patch formed according to computer models for several years in the Barents Sea North of Norway and Russia. This strudel arise when many of the plastic parts driving in the water collected from large circular currents and concentrate in the center of this vortex.

So far five such garbage Vortex are known. These vortices also called the garbage patches are in the Pacific, the Atlantic and also in the Indian Ocean. The largest among them is the so-called North Pacific swirl, ranging to the 50th latitude from the equator.

If you are looking for more information about the waste in the sea: the Alfred Wegener Institute has to all information collected on its Web site and bundled.