Jump directly to the page contents

Recent Highlights

How Microplastic Particles are Exported through the Biological Carbon Pump in the North Atlantic Ocean

Hitchhiking into the Deep

Observations report a large mismatch between plastic load estimates from worldwide production and disposal and actual plastics floating at the sea surface. For the first time, vertical fluxes of microplastics were measured in situ deploying drifting sediment traps in the North Atlantic Gyre from 50 m down to 600 m depth, showing that through biogenic polymers plastic can be embedded into rapidly sinking particles also known as marine snow. The carbon contained in plastic can represent up to 3.8% of the total downward flux of particulate organic carbon. These results shed light on important pathways regulating the transport of microplastics in marine systems and on potential interactions with the marine carbon cycle, suggesting microplastic removal through the “biological plastic pump”.