Wildlife and environment
Currents carry Atlantic trash into the Arctic
© RIA Novosti. Vladimir Astapkovich

Currents carry Atlantic trash into the Arctic

Ocean currents carry plastic trash from the North Atlantic into the Arctic, TASS reports, quoting an article from the Science Advances journal whose authors believe that hundreds of metric tons of Atlantic trash may have accumulated in the region.

The study relied on 42 net tows conducted during the schooner Tara's 2013 Arctic expedition. After evaluating these samples, scientists concluded that the Greenland and Barents Seas were polluted with a substantial amount of plastic. According to the authors, this meets the forecasts of oceanic circulation models implying that the Arctic is a dead end for this global plastic conveyor belt being propelled by currents.

TASS quotes the following passage from this article: "Although plastic debris was scarce or absent in most of the Arctic waters, it reached high concentrations (hundreds of thousands of pieces per square kilometer) in the northernmost and easternmost areas of the Greenland and Barents Seas. The fragmentation and typology of the plastic suggested an abundant presence of aged debris that originated from distant sources."

Approximate calculations show that Arctic waters may contain between 100 and 1,200 metric tons of plastic trash. The authors stress that, although plastic trash drifting in the Arctic accounts for less than three percent of the World Ocean's plastic trash pollution, currents will carry this trash into the region from lower latitudes all the time, and this may spell very serious consequences for Arctic ecosystems.

"The growing level of human activity in an increasingly warm and ice-free Arctic, with wider open areas available for the spread of micro-plastics, suggests that high loads of marine plastic pollution may become prevalent in the Arctic in the future," the authors of the article conclude.