Microplastics may affect how Arctic sea ice forms and melts

Arctic impact
If people assume the Arctic environment is unaffected by what humans discard into the oceans, they are wrong. The pristine waters of the Arctic Ocean are under silent threat by those particles as they drift along with the ocean currents over long distances.

Microplastic concentrations in the Arctic are expected to increase rapidly due to increasing freshwater input and the intensification of shipping traffic and resource development activitiesbecome an important societal problem, as plastics are the most common and persistent pollutants in oceans and beaches worldwide.

In the common imagination, plastic waste is often associated with bottles drifting in the ocean, fishing gear washing up on beaches or plastic bags that turtles mistake for jellyfish and eat.

But those larger particles are just the tip of the iceberg.part of the problem. Plastic particles smaller than five millimetres are called microplastics. They may originate from deliberate design (such as cleaning agents or personal care products), breakdown of larger pieces of plastic or microfibers from textiles.levels, while the second set was used to collect sea ice samples. We manually added microplastic particles to monitor their incorporation into the sea ice as it grew. We used four different concentrations: control (no particles added), low, medium and high (about 120, 380 and 1,200 particles per litre, respectively).

We used a dye called Nile red to follow the microplastics as the ice froze. Under a fluorescent light, dye caused microplastics to glow, allowing us to see how sea ice concentrates microplastics within its structure and, once incorporated, how those particlesMeasuring albedo
Changes in sea ice albedo would have strong consequences on the annual cycle of sea ice growth and melt.

To test our hypothesis, we set up a microcosm study at the Sea-ice Environmental Research Facility at the University of Manitoba, an outdoor pool where we can grow sea ice.

Two sets of 12 microcosms, measuring one cubic metre, were made using galvanized aluminium pipes as frames and cotton bed sheets as walls.

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