Quirks & Quarks

Microplastics on Ice

Significant amounts of tiny fragments of plastic have been discovered in Arctic ice....

Significant amounts of tiny fragments of plastic have been discovered in Arctic ice.

Researchers have discovered that Arctic sea ice is contaminated with tiny fragments of plastic. Tiny fragments of plastic from run-off, dumped garbage and fishing gear - known as microplastic - has been found in many of the world's oceans and coastlines, and there is concern that it may be having impact on sea life. Dr. Rachel Obbard, an assistant professor in the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, was studying sea-ice cores when she was surprised to find a high concentration of plastic in the ice. Sea ice naturally takes up particles from the water as it forms, and Dr. Obbard thinks that the sea ice is acting as a sponge, collecting plastic that enters the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic and Pacific.  As multi-year sea-ice disappears, this reservoir of frozen plastic is likely to be released back into the Arctic Ocean.

Related Links


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?