Can microplastics pose a threat to ocean carbon sequestration?

Mar Pollut Bull. 2020 Jan:150:110712. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2019.110712. Epub 2019 Nov 9.


Global climate change has attracted worldwide attention. The ocean is the largest active carbon pool on the planet and plays an important role in global climate change. However, marine plastic pollution is getting increasingly serious due to the large consumption and mismanagement of global plastics. The impact of marine plastics on ecosystem responsible for the gas exchange and circulation of marine CO2 may cause more greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, in this paper, threats of marine microplastics to ocean carbon sequestration are discussed. Marine microplastics can 1) affect phytoplankton photosynthesis and growth; 2) have toxic effects on zooplankton and affect their development and reproduction; 3) affect marine biological pump; and 4) affect ocean carbon stock. Phytoplankton and zooplankton are the most important producer and consumer of the ocean. As such, clearly, further research should be needed to explore the potential scale and scope of this impact, and its underlying mechanisms.

Keywords: Marine biological pump; Marine plastic pollution; Microplastics; Ocean carbon sequestration.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon
  • Carbon Sequestration*
  • Ecosystem
  • Microplastics*
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical*


  • Microplastics
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Carbon