Frankfurt/Bremerhaven (dpa) – The sea floor in the deep sea is more polluted with microplastics than previously assumed. That’s the conclusion reached by scientists from the Senckenberg Nature Research Society, Goethe University in Frankfurt and the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven.
In 2016, they sampled sediments in the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench in the western Pacific Ocean. The Senckenberg Society announced that between 215 and 1,596 microplastic particles were discovered per kilogram of sediment, more than before. The great biodiversity of the deepest seabed is severely threatened by pollution.
Much of the plastic waste in the seas comes from land, through rivers or our sewage, for example. Large pieces of plastic are milled into smaller and smaller pieces over the course of decades. Some garbage collects in huge piles of garbage on the surface of the oceans, but most of it sinks into marine trenches thousands of meters below the surface.
“We took a total of 13 samples at seven different stations of the trench, at depths between 5,740 and 9,450 metres. None of them were free of microplastics,” said a marine biologist from the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Serena. Abel. Nobody would expect such a large amount of microplastics.
“Every year, an estimated 2.4 to 4 million tons of plastic ends up in the sea via rivers as a result of global plastic overconsumption and poorly regulated waste disposal,” said researcher Angelica Brandt. The deep sea has become a “waste repository”. 14 different types of plastic have been discovered. The researchers presented their findings in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
“So far, the deepest seafloor is considered a stable and relatively unaffected environment where microplastics precipitate and stay in one place,” Abel said. The researchers were surprised that samples taken a few meters away had a completely different structure. “It shows what the dynamic environment is actually the deepest sinkholes in the deep sea.” Swirls, currents, and organisms will keep the sediment moving.
The litter flood is likely to increase in the future. According to previous data from the AWI, global plastic production is expected to double by 2045.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220717-99-50976 / 3
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