A pilot study about microplastics and mesoplastics in an Antarctic glacier

González-Pleiter, Miguel; Lacerot, Gissell; Edo, Carlos; Pablo Lozoya, Juan; Leganés, Francisco; Fernández-Piñas, Francisca; Rosal, Roberto; Teixeira-de-Mello, Franco

Plastics have been found in several compartments in Antarctica. However, there is currently no evidence of their presence on Antarctic glaciers. Our pilot study investigated plastic occurrence on two ice surfaces (one area around Uruguay Lake and another one around Ionosferico Lake) that constitute part of the ablation zone of Collins Glacier (King George Island, Antarctica). Our results showed that expanded polystyrene (EPS) was ubiquitous, ranging from 0.17 to 0.33 items minline-formula−2, whereas polyester was found only on the ice surface around Uruguay Lake (0.25 items minline-formula−2). Furthermore, we evaluated the daily changes in the presence of plastics in these areas in the absence of rainfall to clarify the role of the wind in their transport. We registered an atmospheric dry deposition rate between 0.08 items minline-formula−2 dinline-formula−1 on the ice surface around Uruguay Lake and 0.17 items minline-formula−2 dinline-formula−1 on the ice surface around Ionosferico Lake. Our pilot study is the first report of plastic pollution presence on an Antarctic glacier, possibly originated from local current and past activities and likely deposited by wind transport.

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González-Pleiter, Miguel / Lacerot, Gissell / Edo, Carlos / et al: A pilot study about microplastics and mesoplastics in an Antarctic glacier. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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Rechteinhaber: Miguel González-Pleiter et al.

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