Microplastic Research and Protecting Our Oceans with Kestrel Weather Meters
Plastic in the ocean is an overwhelming problem throughout the world with more than 8 million tons of plastic dumped into the sea each year. Animals such as sea turtles and seals get caught in plastic litter and even die from ingesting it.
However, while items such as plastic bottles present plenty of problems, another significant issue is microplastics. Only 1% of microplastics are visible from the surface of the ocean, although some may wash up on beaches.
What are Microplastics?
Microplastics are small plastic particles that are about 5mm in length - approximately the size of a pencil eraser. These particles appear throughout the world's oceans, including the Southern Ocean that borders Antarctica. Both saltwater and freshwater seas are affected.
Toxic substances from microplastics can leak and absorb into the environment. Microplastic studies show that there is a chemical impact on oceans in addition to the deadly problem of ingestion or entanglement. Microplastics are known to alter nutrient levels, and they also create hotspots of bacteria and gene transfer.
Manufacturing of Plastics
Scientists analyze five different types of microplastics in the ocean:
- Polyethylene (plastic bags and bottles)
- Polystyrene (Take-out food containers)
- Polyurethane (Memory foam mattresses and insulation)
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC plumbing pipes)
A wide range of additives make up the composition of plastics, which change the plastic properties to create characteristics such as durability or flame resistance.
The additives and chemical makeup are also affected by environmental factors, including temperature. Scientists throughout the world are studying microplastics and their effects on oceans, requiring a lot of data tracking and analysis.
Managing Microplastic Research with Kestrel
Temperature and humidity are critical factors in studying and understanding microplastic effects.
For example, microplastics may heat marine turtle nests and produce more females. Turtle nests with sand in the ranges of 24 to 29.5 degrees C will yield more male turtles. Female turtles are more likely in nests with a temperature range of 29.5 to 34 degrees C.
Kestrel Weather Meters guide a wide range of scientific studies worldwide, including the study of microplastics. For example, scientist Kristie Willis studies microplastics in Antarctica, using tools including crampons, shovels, and her Kestrel Weather Meter.
Kestrel aids this expedition by offering down-to-the-second readings of the weather, including temperature and humidity. In addition to being the most accurate weather meter on the market, its data storage allows scientists like Willis to review patterns via Kestrel LiNK, making connections between environment and microplastics to help marine life thrive.
Choose from an array of Kestrel models to help on your next scientific expedition, and consider using one of Kestrel's weather vane mounts for a hands-off approach to your studies.