Review / Climate / News / Science

That ocean breeze may be full of tiny bits of plastic

Posted On: 28 May 2020   |   Posted By: Grist

Want to know how much plastic is entering the ocean every year? I regret to inform you that nobody knows. A commonly cited figure - 8 million metric tons - comes from a decade-old estimate based on population and waste data, and scientists now believe the number could be significantly higher. But there's an even more puzzling question for researchers who study plastic in the ocean: Where has it all gone?
Field studies of marine plastic have accounted for only a small fraction of the material that scientists believe has been dumped into the seas, leading researchers to wonder where the rest of it is. A peer-reviewed study published in PLOS ONE this month backs up one theory for what could be happening to at least some of the missing plastic: Tiny particles are getting spat back out of the ocean and up into the atmosphere.
“It shows that the ocean is not only a sink but also a source of microplastics,” Melanie Bergmann, a marine ecologist who was not involved in the study, told Grist in an email. “And that it...

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