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Summer sea ice melt and wastewater are important local sources of microlitter to Svalbard waters

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

Human activities leave traces of marine litter around the globe. The Arctic is, despite its remoteness, emerging as an area of no exception to this environmental issue. Arctic sea ice has previously been found to constitute a temporal sink of microplastics, but the potential release and subsequent fate of microplastics in the marine environment are yet unknown. Furthermore, the relative importance of local sources of microplastics in the Arctic marine environment is under discussion. In this study, the concentration and distribution of anthropogenic microparticles (AMPs, <5 mm, including microplastics) have been investigated in marine waters and sea ice of Svalbard. Seawater samples throughout the water column and floating sea ice samples were collected along a transect originating in Rijpfjorden, reaching northwards to the sea ice-edge. Seawater samples were also collected along a transect extending westwards from head to mouth of Kongsfjorden. Samples were collected throughout the water column with stations positioned to enable detection of potential AMP emissions from the wastewater outlet in Ny-Ålesund. Along both transects, environmental parameters were measured to explore potential correlations with AMP distribution. High concentrations of AMPs were detected in sea ice (158 ± 155 AMPs L−1). Based on both AMP concentrations and characteristics, AMPs identified in seawater of the marginal ice zone are to a large extent likely released during the melting of sea ice. The release of AMPs during summer melting of sea ice was concomitantly taking place with the ice-edge bloom, suggesting increased bioavailability to Arctic marine biota. Concentrations of AMPs were up to an order of magnitude higher in Kongsfjorden (up to 48.0 AMPs L−1) than in Rijpfjorden (up to 7.4 AMPs L−1). The distribution and composition of AMPs in Kongsfjorden suggest the wastewater outlet in Ny-Ålesund to be a likely source. Our results emphasize the importance of local point- and diffuse sources of AMPs in the Arctic and stress the urgency of considering their associated environmental impact. Implementation of regulatory policy is of importance, particularly since human activities and environmental pressures are increasing in the Arctic.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummer105511
TidsskriftEnvironment International
Vol/bind139
Antal sider12
ISSN0160-4120
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2020
Eksternt udgivetJa

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