Friday, May 30, 2014

And yet another consequence of climate change

Arctic Ice Melt to Release 1 Trillion Pieces of Plastic Into Sea

By Renee Lewis, Al Jazeera America
28 May 14

As the Arctic ice melt accelerates due to climate change it could release more than 1 trillion pieces of plastic into the ocean over the next decade, possibly posing a major threat to marine life, a new scientific report said.

The report, titled “Global Warming Releases Microplastic Legacy Frozen in Arctic Sea Ice,” said ice in some remote locations contains at least twice as much plastic as previously reported areas of surface water such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – an area of plastic waste estimated to be bigger than the state of Texas.

Researchers behind the report, published last week in the scientific journal Earth’s Future, said they found the unusual concentrations of plastics by chance while studying sediments trapped in ice cores. The researchers are based at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

Many scientists and activists have raised alarms over the massive amount of plastic waste building up in the world’s oceans. In the film “Midway,” documentary maker Chris Jordan showed how tens of thousands of baby albatrosses are dying – their bodies filled with plastic most likely from the Garbage Patch – on the Pacific atoll of Midway, one of the most remote islands on the planet.

Increasing ice melt due to climate change will likely release the even-higher concentrations of plastic trapped in Arctic ice into the sea, and thus into the food chain, the new report in Earth’s Future said.

(Continued here.)

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