The plastic wrap

From the deepest ocean trenches to the peaks of the highest mountains, plastics can now be found everywhere, and figuring out how to manage them has become a pressing problem. Several new studies have been released this week addressing the global plastic problem. One predicts how airborne microplastics will have an impact on the climate, … Continue reading The plastic wrap

The wonders of seagrasses

Marine ecosystems are incredible. Although they’ve been besieged by plastic – among many other human-generated challenges – they’re putting up a good fight. Previously, Cosmos reported that mangroves help clean up microplastics. Now, Spanish researchers have found that seagrass meadows could purge hundreds of millions of plastic items from the seafloor to the shore each … Continue reading The wonders of seagrasses

Science from the top of the world

The science is in from an ambitious interdisciplinary expedition to Mt Everest – and the results are appropriately chilling. From April to June 2019, 10 teams of researchers with backgrounds in glaciology, geology, meteorology, biology and mapping took part in the National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition, with the shared aim of understanding … Continue reading Science from the top of the world

Microplastics are all around. Here’s how

Microplastics are everywhere, but how they move through, and accumulate in, the environment is not completely clear. Microplastic particles, seen here in green, travel long distances in soil, but take a few breaks. Credit: Princeton University / Datta Lab It’s been assumed that when minute particles travelling through porous materials such as soil and sediment … Continue reading Microplastics are all around. Here’s how

Mangrove forests act as plastic sinks

A new study highlights the heavy lifting marine ecosystems do in combatting environmental issues, finding that mangrove forests efficiently capture and store microplastics in their sediments.  An international team, led by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia, collected nine core samples from mangrove forests in the Red Sea and Arabian … Continue reading Mangrove forests act as plastic sinks

NatureWrap: Remora on a whale of a ride

Remora are famous for hitching a ride on the bodies of sharks and whales, using the suction in their front dorsal fins to seemingly hang on for dear life. Looks can be deceiving, however. By observing camera-tag video data, researchers from the US and Spain have discovered that they in fact move around to feed … Continue reading NatureWrap: Remora on a whale of a ride

Microplastics problem worse than thought

By Britta Denise Hardesty, Chris Wilcox and Justine Barrett, CSIRO Nowhere, it seems, is immune from plastic pollution: plastic has been reported in the high Arctic oceans, in the sea ice around Antarctica and even in the world’s deepest waters of the Mariana Trench. But just how bad is the problem? Our new research provides … Continue reading Microplastics problem worse than thought

Uncovering the ocean’s ‘invisible’ plastic

There is at least 10 times more plastic in the Atlantic Ocean than previously thought, researchers say, and that’s only including the three most common types. A team from the UK’s National Oceanography Centre found 12-21 million tonnes of “invisible” microplastics in just the upper 200 metres, comparable with previous estimates of how much has … Continue reading Uncovering the ocean’s ‘invisible’ plastic

Plastic in plants and mercury down deep

Studies highlighting our trashing of the environment are depressingly common, and four new papers only serve to highlight the depth (quite literally) and breadth of the real and potential impact. Three report new findings about the spread of plastics and mercury at sea, while the fourth provides evidence, the researchers say, that now ubiquitous nanoplastics … Continue reading Plastic in plants and mercury down deep

Microplastic hotspots on the seafloor

The ocean currents that transport nutrients and oxygen to organisms on the deep-sea floor also carry microplastics there, creating hotspots of up to 1.9 million pieces per square metre, according to a study published in the journal Science. This is the most reported for any seafloor environment in the world, write Ian Kane, from the University of Manchester, UK, … Continue reading Microplastic hotspots on the seafloor

Opening bottles releases microplastics

As if we need another reason to eschew plastic products, which wreak environmental havoc from their inception to final resting place, researchers have shown that just opening a plastic bottle or wrapper releases microplastics. Microplastics, defined as minuscule particles up to five millimetres long, are ubiquitous bi-products of commodities including plastic packaging, tires and synthetic clothing and … Continue reading Opening bottles releases microplastics