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Marine Plastic Garbage Big Trouble Under The Sea Part 2
- Dec 19, 2018 -

Decomposition of marine plastic into greenhouse gases

Plastic polymer chains can also be broken down into small molecules in a chemical reaction under sunlight. This summer, Royle from the University of Hawaii discovered plastic fragments in the sea that were exposed to sunlight and decomposed into greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and ethylene. Once the decomposition process of the plastic is activated, they will continue to degrade even in the dark.

“The greenhouse gases produced by plastics are factors that people have not considered.” Royle said that although it is not clear how much plastics have become greenhouse gases, how many greenhouse gases have escaped into the atmosphere or have been sealed in the oceans, It may constitute an important but unmeasurable source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Underwater robot measuring submarine plastic

To a large extent, the mystery of the disappearance of marine plastics can be attributed to the lack of data. Carla said that most plastic surveys are carried out on the surface of the ocean. The tools used are specialized in the study of plankton fishing nets, but there is much less research on the seabed and ocean water columns.

“The speed of the water column is very fast, and it quickly enters the depths of the sea. It is difficult for us to enter the water column for comprehensive measurement.” Kara said, “What we lack in marine plastic pollution is better technology.”

Anna, a seventh-grade Montessori school in Andover, Massachusetts, invented an underwater remote-controlled vehicle to find micro-plastics scattered in the ocean.

Anna likes to make jewelry with sea glass. One day, when she collected sea glass at the beach, she saw a lot of plastic scattered on the beach. She is worried that birds or other animals will eat these plastics, so she starts to rub the garbage. But plastic is not only on the beach, but also scattered in the ocean. Thus, Anna wanted to invent a low-cost way to discover the accumulation of micro-plastics in the ocean in order to clean them up.

Therefore, Anna used the PVC pipe used in her own renovation to make an underwater remote control vehicle. The underwater remote control vehicle is equipped with an underwater plastic particle detection system that uses a camera for infrared detection. “Different types of plastics absorb different spectra.” Anna said that after the camera of the system was photographed, the images were compared to a reference library of an online database. In this way, the system can distinguish between plastic and other materials.

Anna first tested the system on land and then adapted the system to a relatively dark underwater environment. In order to improve the durability and maneuverability of the underwater remote control vehicle, she constantly adjusts. “Finally, I created a diving and detection system that can be used in a brackish water environment,” she said.

  Background information:

Marine plastic waste

About 99.9% of marine waste is plastic. In some sea areas, the maximum plastic density of the ocean reaches 200,000 plastic fragments per square kilometer, and most of the debris comes from consumer goods commonly used in daily life, such as bags and plastics. Products and so on.

Plastics, bottles, ropes and fishing net whirlpools, when the artificial garbage is stuck in the circulating ocean circulation, it will cause garbage. Currently, there are five huge garbage belts on the planet, the largest of which is the Pacific garbage belt between Hawaii and California. The survey found that the area of the Pacific garbage belt is more than twice the size of France, which contains at least 79,000 tons of plastic.

Marine debris is fatal to animals. A video taken by the Alaska Fisheries Department shows that marine debris has had a devastating effect on seals and sea lions. Their necks are tied by rubber bands and plastic straps, and the straps have been deeply trapped in the flesh, and the lure fishing lures stick out of their mouths. The fins of the sea lion were trapped in plastic bags, which caused it to drown.

Even the serious pollution scenes seen by the above people are still only the appearance of marine plastic pollution. Due to the lack of deep sea measurement technology, more plastic garbage and plastic particles lost in the depths of the ocean cannot be counted. In the end, these plastic particles may enter the human body through the food chain, causing harm to human health.