Quantifying microplastics in fjords along the Western Antarctic Peninsula

Microplastics are ubiquitous around the world. Microplastics have been documented around the Southern Ocean, in coastal sediments and in Antarctic marine organisms, however microplastics data for Antarctic waters remain scarce. Microplastics concentrations were characterized from fjord habitats on the Western Antarctic Peninsula where most glaciers are rapidly retreating. Water samples were collected from 2017 to 2020 from surface and benthos, vacuum-filtered, quantified to determine the classification of microplastic, color, and size. Micro-FTIR spectrophotometry was utilized to confirm chemical composition. Comparisons over time and location were made for average microplastic per liter. Despite the new emergent youth and remoteness of these habitats, it was determined that all fjord habitats had microplastics present each year sampled and increased from 2017 to 2020 in each fjord. Despite physical ‘barriers’ such as the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (and particularly its strongest jet, the Polar Front), microplastics are clearly present and increasing in even recent habitats.


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Authors: Garza, Tristyn N., Barnes, David K.A. ORCIDORCID record for David K.A. Barnes, Scourse, James D., Whitaker, Justine M., Janosik, Alexis M.

On this site: David Barnes
16 June, 2023
Marine Pollution Bulletin / 193
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