Microplastics In Antarctica:
For the first time, microplastics have been found in freshly fallen snow in Antarctica
- Researchers collected snow samples from 19 sites in the Ross Island region of Antarctica and found that all contained microplastics.
- While microplastics have been found across the world, from the world’s deepest ocean floors to the peak of Mount Everest, researchers say that this is the first time that they have been found in freshly fallen snow in Antarctica.
- These particles, due to their light weight and low density, might have travelled through air from more than 6,000 km away.
- However, there is also a possibility that the human presence in Antarctica created a microplastic ‘footprint’
- It shows that the spread of microplastics is so widespread, that even the remotest and least habitable places in the world are now infested by these particles.
- Microplastics are not biodegradable and can be toxic for plants and animals.
- The microplastics deposited in ice and snow can accelerate the melting of the cryosphere — regions where water is in solid form, like the planet’s North and South Poles. Dark-coloured microplastics are better at absorbing sunlight and retain more heat.
- Microplastics are tiny plastic debris that are smaller than 5 mm in length, tinier than even a grain of rice. There are two types of microplastics.
- Primary microplastics are tiny particles that are purposely designed as such for commercial use, like in cosmetics, nurdles-plastic pellets used in industrial manufacturing and in fibres from synthetic textiles like nylon.
- Secondary microplastics are formed through the degradation of larger plastic items like bottles, fishing nets and plastic bags.
- This occurs through exposure to the environment, like radiation from the sun, wind and ocean waves.