Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Litter is piling up on the Arctic sea floor
by Brooks Hays
Bremerhaven, Germany (UPI) Feb 10, 2017

Thailand tries to tackle 1km-long mass of ocean trash
Bangkok (AFP) Feb 10, 2017 - Thai authorities are trying to clean up a massive, one-kilometre long tangle of trash, officials said Friday, calling it the largest garbage heap to float through the kingdom's waters.

The mass of debris was estimated to weigh some 300 tonnes, said Sopon Thongdee, deputy director of Thailand's Marine and Coastal Resources Department.

"In all my working life I've never seen an amount of garbage this huge," he told AFP, adding that it was first spotted off of southern Chumpon province and has since floated north.

Authorities believe much of the detritus was carried into the ocean by floods that swept through Thailand's south in January.

Four ships have been mobilised to retrieve the trash -- a task made more difficult as the cluster began to break off into smaller chunks on Friday, said Sopon.

Thailand is one of the world's top consumers of plastic bags and a major contributor to ocean waste.

In a recent report, US-based advocacy group Ocean Conservancy estimated that Thailand was one of just five countries responsible for as much as 60 percent of plastic waste dumped into the ocean.

The other nations are China, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam.

Marine scientists from Germany have been monitoring litter levels in the Arctic since 2002. They say the problem is getting worse.

Litter is identified in photographs taken by their Ocean Floor Observation System, OFOS, which includes 21 underwater observatory stations. Two of the stations and their underwater cameras are dedicated to counting garbage.

Between 2002 and 2014, scientists identified 89 pieces of litter -- plastic bags, glass shards, fishing nets --- in 7,058 photographs. Researchers used other Arctic garbage studies to extrapolate their findings.

Between 2002 and 2014, researchers determined the Arctic hosted an average of 3,485 pieces of litter per square kilometer, or 1,345 pieces per square mile. In 2011, the average was 4,959 pieces per square kilometer, and in 2014, it was 6,333.

Researchers detailed their calculations in the journal Deep Sea Research I.

"Our time series confirms that litter levels in the Arctic deep sea have risen rapidly in the past few years," Mine Tekman, a biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute's Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, said in a news release.

Scientists say it's difficult to determine the origins of litter seen in the photographs, but they assume much of it is delivered by the Gulf Stream. Some, they now believe, is carried and deposited in the Fram Strait by sea ice. The Fram Strait is an ocean passage between Greenland and Norway's Svalbard archipelago.

"If we're right, sea ice could entrain floating litter during ice formation. During warmer periods, the ice breaks up and is transported to the south into the Fram Strait with the Transpolar Drift, releasing entrained litter into the survey area when it melts," explained deep-sea biologist Melanie Bergmann. "To date we've assumed just the opposite, since we viewed the ice as a barrier to litter contamination."

Scientists say it's also hard to determine whether they're witnessing an uptick in microplastic pollution or evidence of larger plastic pieces fragmenting as they drift to the bottom of the ocean. In 2016, scientists spotted a piece of plastic they had witnessed in 2014. Because ultraviolet light doesn't reach the seafloor, debris breaks down very slowly.

"Running into this same piece of plastic twice with hardly any changes to it is a vivid reminder that the depths of the Arctic are at risk of becoming a depot for plastic litter," Bergmann said. "The well-hidden accumulation of litter on the deep ocean floor could also explain why we still don't know where 99 percent. of the marine plastic litter ends up."

Study: Deep-sea mining causes long-lasting ecological damage
Southampton, England (UPI) Feb 10, 2017 - Analysis by scientists at the National Oceanography Center in England suggest deep-sea mining operations will have long-lasting ecological consequences.

Researchers reviewed the available scientific literature on small-scale sea-floor disturbances and found clear and measurable impacts to marine ecosystems lasting decades.

As metals become scarce on land, the mining industry has turned its attention to the deep sea floor, where vast expanses of nodules rest. Nodules are potato-sized rocks featuring significant amounts of high-quality metals like copper, manganese and nickel.

No commercial deep-sea mining operations are yet underway, but the International Seabed Authority has issued several exploratory mining licenses to companies from multiple countries.

Scientists have been conducting sea-floor disturbance experiments since the 1970s. The predictive value of a single experiment is limiting, but by surveying a variety of these experiments, scientists at NOC were able to identify broader patterns.

All of the experiments analyzed by NOC researchers were much smaller than an actual mining operation.

These studies will underestimate the impacts of mining," researcher wrote in their paper, published in the journal PLOS ONE. "Many would not even represent one month's work for a full-scale commercial operation, which might last for twenty years."

The longest experiment included in the survey lasted 26 years. Though the disturbed site showed some evidence of recovery, biodiversity and abundance remained diminished.

Because the deep sea floor is still poorly understood by scientists, researchers say environmental officials must be extra vigilant in regulating deep-sea mining operations.

Comment on this article using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Scientists find huge ancient landslide on Great Barrier Reef
Sydney (AFP) Feb 8, 2017
A massive underwater landslide that could have triggered a towering tsunami some 300,000 years ago has been discovered in the depths of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, scientists said Wednesday. The ancient landslide, likely caused by a strong earthquake that could have generated a tsunami wave 27 metres (90 feet) high, was discovered unexpectedly by researchers conducting three-dimensional ... read more

Justice for victims of Nepal's civil war slips away

Facebook adds tool for helping in times of crisis

Afghans dig with 'any tools possible' for avalanche survivors

Six cosmic catastrophes that could wipe out life on Earth

New material that contracts when heated holds great industrial potential

Flipping the switch on ammonia production

Aavid Thermacore Europe's technology will keep solar satellite cool

Scientists discover helium chemistry

RE2 Robotics to further develop EOD underwater manipulator system

Splitfin flashlight fish uses bioluminescent light to illuminate plankton

NASA studies growing Louisiana deltas

Scientists find huge ancient landslide on Great Barrier Reef

Climate change adds to pressures on endangered African penguins

CryoSat reveals lake outbursts beneath Antarctic ice

Study shows planet's atmospheric oxygen rose through glaciers

Study shows planet's atmospheric oxygen rose through glaciers

Syngenta says profits down as ChemChina takeover looms

Miracle crop: Can quinoa help feed the world?

Students brew beer using 5,000-year-old recipe from China

Persistent tropical foraging in the New Guinea highlands

NASA-Led Campaign Studies Hawaii's Iconic Volcanoes

Pacific rim countries to test their tsunami warning system

Prediction of large earthquakes probability improved

Can underwater sonar canons stop a tsunami in its tracks?

I. Coast govt pursues bid to end mutiny by elite troops

Ivory Coast govt in bid to end elite troops' mutiny

Somalia to elect president amid security, drought woes

Elite I.Coast troops fire protest shots at two bases

Humans subconsciously perceive words as 'round' or 'sharp'

Paleolithic people 'killed' pebbles to rid them of their symbolic power

Chimpanzee feet allow scientists a new grasp on human foot evolution

Baltic hunter-gatherers began farming without influence of migration

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement