ATHENS (dpa) – Shopping bags, water bottles, Styrofoam, fine particles – According to a recent study, about 3,760 tons of plastic have drifted on the surface of the Mediterranean Sea alone.
Scientists from the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR) write about their findings in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science that it is a “shocking amount”. Shocking above all because, apart from the floating plastic, a large part of the matter sinks to the sea floor.
According to the team led by Kostas Tsiaras of HCMR, the Mediterranean is a plastic pollution hotspot because many areas of the coast are densely populated. Added to this are factors such as tourism, fishing, shipping and, last but not least, geography – the exchange of water between the inland sea and the Atlantic is relatively low.
Using a new mathematical model, scientists have determined that about 17,600 tons of plastic end up in the Mediterranean every year. 3,760 tons of them are currently floating on the surface. About 2,800 tons (16 percent) of the total amount partially sinks to the sea floor, and the rest (84 percent) washes up on beaches.
According to estimates, more than 250,000 tons of plastic waste swim in the oceans around the world. “Simulation of the distribution of plastic in the oceans is currently characterized by a high degree of uncertainty,” Tsiaras said. This is mainly due to the complexity of operations. While the plastic bag floats on the surface for a long time, other plastic parts sink quickly; Some are swallowed by marine organisms or broken into small pieces. Plus, winds, waves and currents push plastic over long distances.
The scientists’ study takes these factors into account. As a result, experts have identified areas where a significant amount of plastic ends up in the sea. Tsiaras said your new computation model can help examine the benefits of measures to contain pollution and develop and implement countermeasures in a more targeted manner.
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