Nanuq-MantaNet to assess polar microplastics and nanoplastics
CNR – ISMAR
Plastic make up the largest quantity of the non-biodegradable material contaminating the world’s oceans and is a huge environmental concern because its longevity means that it can be distributed over huge distances from its origin, and accumulate in remote areas such as the Poles. Once in the ocean, mechanical and biological processes cause plastics to break down into microplastics, which are difficult to remove from the ocean and are a threat to the diverse marine food webs and ecosystems supported by polar waters. Nanuq-Manta is the first study to assess the presence and distribution of microplastics in the Arctic waters above 78° of latitude. Water samples will be collected using a manta net in the top 16 cm of surface water and sub-surface samples from the vessel’s on-board seawater pump, situated 6 m below the surface. This will allow for future microplastic monitoring and to a risk assessment of the potential impacts of decreasing sea ice, increasing shipping and commercial activity.