Beyond the famous garbage patches or islands where a good part of the waste is found, where does the plastic waste that we throw into the sea end up? In what areas are they concentrated? In order to have a global vision of this type of pollution, researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute have consulted data from different places to integrate them into a single map.
The work has been complicated and has required a great deal of patience, although the new technologies lightened the task and, on the other hand, have helped to achieve highly visual digital results, as the cartographic result shows . A map showing the distribution of marine litter, mostly plastic.
- An initiative that provides useful information
- Serious garbage problem in the Arctic
- Noise pollution, another great threat
An initiative that provides useful information
In order to carry it out, data have been collected from different sources, compiling scientific studies on the subject to finally bring them together in a single database, which allows them to be viewed on an illustrative world map. The problem? As always, the exaggerated level of waste that the result reveals. Once again, the outlook makes the hair stand on end …
As can be seen in the image that opens the post, or in the map itself (litterbase.awi.de/litter), it groups together the results of a long list of investigations that dealt with this issue. If we place the reason on any of them, it offers information about the source.
Its results, therefore, are not entirely real, since it offers incomplete information, so the fact that the presence of contamination has not been reported in an area does not mean that there is none. Simply, it is indicating that the area has not been studied, so it cannot be assured that it is a clean portion of sea. In other words, paraphrasing a popular saying, they are all who are but not all who are.
Still, the mere fact that there are contaminated spots dotting much of the map is an important enough indicator to be concerned. Not surprisingly, it is a problem that demands an urgent solution if we do not want to end life in the oceans.
It is not an exaggeration, but a sad reality that seems to find no solution. Let us recall the conclusion of a recent study carried out by the EllenMacArthur Foundation, which warned that, if the current rate of plastic dumping into the sea continues, by 2050 the oceans could have more plastic than fish. With the aggravating circumstance that the forecasts for plastic waste are growing, so this date could be much closer.
The map, on the other hand, will help to establish a relationship between the contaminated points and the existence of certain species that may be affected by pollution, even threatening their survival. In this way, the project can help improve conservation policies to save endangered species.
Serious garbage problem in the Arctic
In addition to observing in a global way the serious situation of the oceans and seas of the entire planet, ending the widespread idea that the sea purifies everything or, for example, that garbage is grouped in some specific points , it is important to focus in these.
The Arctic Ocean is one of them. According to a new study carried out by researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute in collaboration with other scientific centers, the Arctic is becoming a deadlock where garbage is concentrated .
In the last ten years, always according to the same study, the concentration of marine litter in deep waters has continued to increase and this poses a serious threat to its especially vulnerable ecosystem. According to the results of their long-term study, published in the journal Deep Sea Research I, the levels of debris detected since 2002 in the deep Arctic Sea are constantly increasing.
Noise pollution, another great threat
Above all, it is emphasized how quickly they have done it “in recent years,” says the leader of the investigation, Mina Tekman. The study monitored the level of garbage in 21 stations at a depth of 2,500 meters using a towed camera system, verifying how in some of them the level of garbage had multiplied by 20 in just a decade.
Along with the pollution formed by domestic, agricultural or industrial waste, polluting gases or toxic discharges, there is noise pollution, another type of marine pollution that also contributes to a significant deterioration of the ocean ecosystem.
The study of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, part of the expedition “The Ocean Mapping Expedition”, is being carried out during the historic crossing of the Swiss sailboat “Flor de la Pasión”, which for four years plans to follow the journey of Fernando de Magallanes as a tribute to this explorer, which will be 500 years old in 2019.
Michel André, an expert in noise pollution working on this project says that “there are no corners in the ocean without noise pollution .” On the one hand, as a result of the growing human presence, and on the other, due to the same characteristics of sound, which travels further through the water.
The expert underlines the drama that many species have to endure constantly low intensity sounds, such as those emitted by ships, as well as others that are more acute, but less durable, very damaging to them. Some of the sounds can cause death, affecting them in the same way that the shock wave of a bomb would, and can in turn burst their ears.
To this must be added that its pollution “is adding up”, and that it is greater than we think because many of the sounds are simply not perceived by the human ear, although there are always places more contaminated than others, and more vulnerable to the effects. of noise pollution . For now, the Arctic is quite protected thanks to ice, but the summer thaw that is expected in the near future will also bring this problem to the region.
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