Lack of knowledge on levels and trends of litter and microplastics in the Arctic, is limiting our understanding of the sources, transport, fate, and effects is hampering global activities aimed at reducing litter and microplastics in the environment. To obtain a holistic view to managing litter and microplastics in the Arctic, we considered the current state of knowledge and methods for litter and microplastics monitoring in eleven environmental compartments representing the marine, freshwater, terrestrial, and atmospheric environments. Based on available harmonized methods, and existing data in the Arctic, we recommend prioritization of implementing litter and microplastics monitoring in the Arctic in four Priority 1 compartments—water, aquatic sediments, shorelines, and seabirds. One or several of these compartments should be monitored to provide benchmark data for litter and microplastics in the Arctic and, in the future, data on spatial and temporal trends. For the other environmental compartments, methods should be refined for future sources and surveillance monitoring, as well as monitoring of effects. Implementation of the monitoring activities should include community-based local components where possible. While organized as national and regional programs, monitoring of litter and microplastics in the Arctic should be coordinated, with a view to future pan-Arctic assessments.
- temporal trends
- spatial trends