New Zealand researchers have found tiny plastics toxic to plants and animals in 19 snow samples from Antarctica.
Microplastics have been discovered for the first time in Antarctica during recent snowfalls, which could accelerate the melting of snow and ice and pose a threat to the health of the continent’s unique ecosystem.
The tiny plastics – smaller than a grain of rice – have been found in Antarctic ice and water before, but this is the first time they have been observed in “fresh” snow, the researchers said.
The research, led by UC PhD student Alex Aves and supervised by Laura Revell, is published in the scientific journal The Cryosphere.
Microplastics Pollute the entire planet nowfrom Mount Everest to the deepest ocean.
Aves collected snow samples from the Ross Ice Shelf in late 2019 to determine whether microplastics had been transferred from the atmosphere into the snow. According to the Guardian, so far there has not been much research on the phenomenon in Antarctica.
“We’re optimistic that there won’t be any microplastics in such a pristine and remote place,” Revell said.
Experts instructed Aves to also take samples from Scott Base and McMurdo Station – where microplastics have been detected – so “she would at least Some Microplastics Research‘ Revell added.
But that’s an unnecessary precaution — plastic particles were found in each of the Ross Ice Shelf’s 19 samples.
“It’s incredible, but the discovery of microplastics in fresh snow in Antarctica highlights level of plastic pollution, Even in the most remote areas of the world,” Aves said.
Plastic pollution has been found from Mount Everest to the depths of the ocean. People are known to inadvertently eat and breathe microplastics.
Another recent study found that these particles can cause damage to human cells. The study, published last year, found that airborne microplastics were “circling the globe”.
Average student finds 29 microplastic particles Snowmelt per liter, higher than observed in Ross Seawater and Antarctic sea ice.
Higher concentrations were recorded in samples taken near the science bases at Ross Island, Scott Base and McMurdo Station.
13 different types of plastics were found, the most common being PET – the plastic commonly used in manufacturing Soft Drink Bottles and Clothes.
Atmospheric models suggest they may have traveled thousands of kilometers in the air, but it’s also likely that the human presence in Antarctica has established a microplastic “footprint,” Revell said.
“We found pictures of some of the flags that were used to search the path around the base. These colors correspond to the most colorful microplastics we’ve found in the environment,” he revealed.
Previous research by Revell has shown that microplastics in the atmosphere can trap radiation emitted by the Earth and cause climate change.
Revell explained that dark microplastics on icy surfaces absorb sunlight and cause localized heating. Plastics can also be toxic to animal and plant life.
“We’re still learning a lot about impact, but from what we know so far, it’s not great“, the experts concluded.