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Arctic Ocean Is The ‘Dead End’ For Trash

First Posted: Apr 21, 2017 05:50 AM EDT
NASA Continues Efforts To Monitor Arctic Ice Loss With Research Flights Over Greenland & Canada
Sea ice is seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft on March 30, 2017 above Ellesmere Island, Canada. The ice fields of Ellesmere Island are retreating due to warming temperatures. (Image for representation only.)
(Photo : Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Every city in the world has a landfill of some sort where trash is sent to rot. However, despite these massive dumpsites, it seems that a high concentration of plastics still find their way into the Arctic Ocean.

In a new study published on Science Advances, it was found that the Arctic Ocean has been accumulating large volumes of plastics, specifically in the Greenland and Barents Seas. These wastes are brought in from different regions and into the Arctic from the Atlantic Ocean. The currents were said to create a "plastic conveyor belt" that somehow ends up in the Arctic.

Researchers from different institutions around the world sampled some of the plastics floating in the Arctic during a 2013 expedition. There, they found that there are about 300 billion tiny pieces of plastic that can be seen on the Arctic's surface, and they expected more to be found in the sea floor below. Study lead author Andrés Cózar Cabañas said that the plastics were dumped into the Arctic from the North Atlantic, as per The New York Times.

In a 2016 report from the World Economic Forum, scientists estimated about 8 million tons of plastic ending up in the ocean each year. It is an equivalent to one garbage truck getting dumped in the ocean every minute. As noted by another report, at the rate that this continues, it will seem that the oceans will be filled with more plastics than fish by 2050.

The surface water plastic that was seen in the Arctic amounts to only about 3 percent of the total trash actually found in the oceans. However, the authors of the study suggest that the amount will likely grow, and eventually, the seafloor could be a sinking hole for plastic in the future.

Cabañas himself explained plastic pollution, adding that the issue will "require international agreements" to fully understand the effect of pollution. He said, "The more we know about what happens in the Arctic, the better chance we have."

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