According to an article published on May 22, 2014 the science news provider Science Mag, trillions of plastic pieces may be trapped in the arctic ice. The researchers from Dartmouth College hypothesized that the decline in Artic sea ice extent due to climate change may result in a release of anthropocentric polymeric particles back into the oceans. Obbard and colleagues found hundreds of particles per cubic meter of ice cores collected during arctic expeditions between 2005 and 2010. The abundance of particles is 3 orders of magnitude larger than in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and might be greater still, as the sifting technique only collected particles larger than 0.22 µm. Particles found included rayon (54%), derived from natural cellulose and used in clothing, cigarette filters and diapers, polyester (21%), nylon (16%), and polypropylene (3%). In the article Mark Browne, ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, U.S., states that plastic is chemically inert, however, it absorbs organic pollutants and may be retained in tissues, where contaminants can be released again. The researchers estimate that 1 trillion particles may be released into the open ocean during the next decade if current melting patterns are sustained.

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Eric Hand (May 22, 2014). “Trillions of plastic pieces may be trapped in arctic ice.


Obbard, R. et al. (2014). “Global warming releases microplastic legacy frozen in arctic aea ice.Earth’s Future (published online May 20, 2014).