The water-column microplastic inventory in the Arctic Ocean on the Pacific side (Chukchi Sea) was estimated for the first time
Discovering that the key is the inflow from the Pacific Ocean
By JAMSTEC / Sasakawa Peace Foundation
November 2, 2022
A research group led by Takahito Ikenoue, Researcher at the Research Institute for Global Change (RIGC), Marine Biodiversity and Environmental Assessment Research Center (BioEnv), Marine Plastics Research Group (M-Plastics), Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), and including Junko Toyoshima, Research Fellow at the Ocean Policy Research Institute (OPRI) of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, have clarified the water-column microplastic inventory in the Chukchi Sea of the Arctic Ocean on the Pacific side (*) and the annual flux of microplastics from the Pacific Ocean into the Chukchi Sea.
While there is limited information about the extent of plastic debris pollution in the Arctic Ocean on the Pacific side (Chukchi Sea), this research revealed that microplastics were detected even offshore of the Chukchi Sea, far from human habitats. The mean water-column microplastic inventory in the Chukchi Sea was 5,236 pieces/km2, and the total amount of microplastic particles in the Chukchi Sea water was estimated to be 3.3 x 109 pieces. By contrast, microplastic inflow from the Pacific Ocean was estimated to be 1.8 x 1010 pieces/year, of which only a portion was found in the Chukchi Sea water. Most of the microplastics entering the Arctic Ocean from the Pacific Ocean may be accumulating outside of the Chukchi Sea water-column (e.g., sea ice and seafloor sediments) or in the downstream regions of the Pacific-origin water, such as the Beaufort Sea, signifying the importance of clarifying this missing sink in the future.
This finding was published in Science of the Total Environment on November 1, 2022 (JST).