Australian researchers have discovered microparticles of plastic for the first time in sea ice off the east coast of Antarctica. The larger particle size compared to the finds in the Arctic ice indicates that the source of pollution is local. The description of the study was published by the scientific journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, briefly writes the press service of the University of Tasmania.
"If there are plastic particles in Antarctica - one of the most remote corners of the Earth, where there are no permanent human settlements, it means that such rubbish is spread everywhere, even in places that most of us will never visit," - said Anna Kelly, leader research, student at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Research, which is part of the University of Tasmania.
The core, which the researchers studied, was drilled out of frozen ice on the east coast of Antarctica back in 2009. By melting it, scientists discovered 96 microplastic particles that belonged to 14 different types of polymers - polyethylene, polyester, nylon and others.
"The average plastic content was about 12 particles per liter. The particles themselves were larger than those previously found in Arctic ice," Kelly said. "This indicates that the source of the pollution is local, because it has less time to decompose. into smaller particles. " Such a source can be clothing and equipment of tourists and researchers, as well as fishing gear, the researcher explained.
The ice prevents these particles from sinking, so there is a better chance of being eaten by krill, a key species in the Southern Ocean. The microplastics can then reach predators that feed on krill and travel further up the food chain.
Scientists plan to continue their research. They want to find out if pollution levels have increased over the past decade by examining Antarctic ice that formed this year.