Environmental change

Microplastics lurk in the deep sea

Microplastic in the ocean
Photo: Tunatura/Getty Images

Huge quantities of microplastics can be found in the twilight zone depths of the ocean, where sunlight does not penetrate, a new study conducted in Monterey Bay finds.

Why it matters: The research, published Thursday in Scientific Reports, indicates that microplastics — tiny plastic particles less than 5 millimeters across — are entering the deep sea and being consumed as part of the marine food web. It's thought that these particles may be harming ocean life, but the details on that are just emerging.

Earth is losing its free-flowing rivers

The Sesan 2 dam in Stung Treng, Cambodia
The Sesan 2 dam in Stung Treng, Cambodia. Photo: Jason South/Fairfax Media/Getty Images

Earth's rivers are increasingly dammed, disrupted by development and fragmented — all of which are threatening food and clean water sources that hundreds of millions of people depend on, a new study finds.

What's new: A first-of-its-kind study published Wednesday in Nature provides a global census of the world's rivers, and seeks to answer the question of how many are still free-flowing.