Sunday 24 September 2017 00.01 BST
How did that get there?
Plastic chunks on Arctic ice show how far pollution has spread
Discovery by UK scientists prompts fear that melting ice will allow more plastic to be released into the central Arctic Ocean – with huge effectson wildlife
A British-led expedition has discovered sizeable chunks of polystyrene lying on remote frozen ice floes in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.
The depressing find, only 1,000 miles from the north pole, is the first made in an area that was previously inaccessible to scientists because
of sea ice. It is one of the most northerly sightings of such detritus in the world’s oceans, which are increasingly polluted by plastics.
A team of scientists drawn from the UK, US, Norway and Hong Kong, headed by marine biologist Tim Gordon of Exeter University, said the discovery confirmed just how far plastic pollution has spread. It has prompted fears that plastic waste is flowing into the Arctic as the ice melts because of climate change. The thaw is simultaneously releasing plastic that has long been trapped in the ice.
The scientists, who were on the explorer Pen Hadow’s Arctic Mission attempt to sail to the north pole, were surprised to discover the blocks
of polystyrene many hundreds of miles from land in areas that were, until recently, covered by ice all year round. They found two large
pieces on the edge of ice floes between 77° and 80° north, in the middle of the international waters of the central Arctic Ocean.