A recent study by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), found there is at least 10 times more plastic in the Atlantic than previously thought. The mass of ‘invisible’ microplastics found in the upper waters of the Atlantic Ocean is approximately 12- 21 million tonnes.
Our latest #microplastics study identified plastic contaminants in seawater samples using state-of-the-art spectroscopic imaging techniques – and estimated there is at least 10x more plastic in the Atlantic than previously thought https://t.co/rr0Q9M55Sj #marinescience [no audio] pic.twitter.com/dq5mOx4J07— Oceanography Centre (@NOCnews) August 19, 2020
“Previously, we couldn’t balance the mass of floating plastic we observed with the mass we thought had entered the ocean since 1950. This is because earlier studies hadn’t been measuring the concentrations of ‘invisible’ microplastic particles beneath the ocean surface. Our research is the first to have done this across the entire Atlantic, from the UK to the Falklands,” says lead author of the paper, Dr. Katsiaryna Pabortsava.
This study, however, only measured the three most common types of microplastic in the upper levels of the ocean. The researchers estimate that the Atlantic’s total plastic load is closer to 200 million tonnes (approximately 220.4 million U.S. tons). That is much higher than the previous estimate of 17 million to 47 million tonnes (approximately 19 to 52 million U.S. tons) of plastic released into the Atlantic between 1950 and 2015, reports EcoWatch.
Hopefully, with this new research, policymakers can make moves to stop plastic pollution that is harming marine life, the environment, and ultimately us.
According to The Guardian, in order for policymakers to stop plastic reaching the oceans – where it stays for decades, breaking up into smaller and smaller particles – they need a better understanding of the sources, and how it behaves once in the water.