San Francisco, USA — Plastic pollution is ubiquitous throughout the marine environment, yet estimates of the global abundance and weight of floating plastics have lacked data, particularly from the Southern Hemisphere and remote regions. But now scientists from the US, France, Chile, Australia and New Zealand calculate a minimum of 5.25 trillion particles weighing 268,940 tons floating in the oceans. The results were recently published in the journal PLOS One.
When comparing between four size classes – two microplastic4.75 mm -, a tremendous loss of microplastics is observed from the sea surface compared to expected rates of fragmentation, suggesting there are mechanisms at play that remove
The estimations base on 24 expeditions between 2007 and 2013 across all five sub-tropical gyres, costal Australia, Bay of Bengal and the Mediterranean Sea conducting surface net tows (N = 680) and visual survey transects of large plastic debris (N = 891). An oceanographic model of floating debris dispersal calibrated by our data was used and corrected for wind-driven vertical mixing.
The full report on „Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea“ can be found under plosone.org.
Source: PLOS One