Microplastics Accumulate in Deep-Sea Life Hotspots

Research published this month reveals that microplastics often accumulate on the deep sea floor in the same place as diverse and dense marine life communities. This is because the same submarine sediment flows that transfer the oxygen and nutrients needed to sustain life, also transport microplastics from urban rivers to the deep-sea floor via pathways such as submarine canyons. 

The findings result from combining previously published observations of seafloor microplastic distribution with new measurements and models of deep-sea transport of sediment and organic material.

This research between the NOC and University of Manchester forms part of a broader collaboration with IFREMER in France, University of Bremen in Germany and Utrecht University in the Netherlands, called SCAMPI (Seafloor Currents And Microplastics Investigation), which aims to investigate the role of seafloor currents in controlling the distribution of microplastics in the ocean. Researcher Mike Clare was funded by the NERC National Capability CLASS (Climate Linked Atlantic Sector Science) program.

The paper is published in Frontiers in Earth Science and can be downloaded here.

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