A research team, led by GSO, recently returned from the groundbreaking, 18-day Northwest Passage Project expedition. The team of natural and social scientists were collecting water, ice and air samples to better understand the impact of climate change on the Arctic environment and biological diversity in the Passage. According to GSO professor Brice Loose, the expedition’s chief scientist, the team found a disturbing amount of plastic – different types, sizes and colors – in ice cores collected along the ship’s route.
“We had spent weeks looking out at what looks so much like pristine white sea ice floating out on the ocean,” said Jacob Strock, a graduate student researcher at the University of Rhode Island, who conducted an initial onboard analysis of the cores.
“When we look at it up close and we see that it’s all very, very visibly contaminated when you look at it with the right tools — it felt a little bit like a punch in the gut,” Strock told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday.