Shipping Emissions and Maritime Pollution


Maritime transportation is a major source of climate change and air pollution. Shipping emissions cause severe impacts on health and the environment. These effects of emissions are emerging especially in territorial waters, inland seas, canals, straits, bays, and port regions. It is a major transportation mode as the international marine transport of goods is responsible for roughly 90% of world trade by volume. Similarly, more than 80% of world trade is carried by sea in terms of weight.

The world maritime fleet has grown in parallel with the seaborne trade registered under the flags of over 150 nations. Over the past decades, growing international trade resulted in a corresponding growth in the tonnage of merchandise carried by ships. Maritime transportation is considered to be the most energy efficient cargo transportation mode, which has the potential to make a significant contribution to the efficiency of the transport system. The growing number of shipping movements and the related release of air pollutants have drawn attention onto this emission source. Shipping activities are one of major air pollution sources as the ships that have high powered main engines often use heavy fuels. More than 95% of the world’s shipping fleet is powered by diesel engines.

The bunker oil used in ocean going ships has been estimated to produce over 100 times compared to on-road diesel per unit volume. Ship emissions have remarkable global, regional, and local adverse impacts on the air quality on sea and land. The most important pollutants emitted from ships are nitrogen oxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrocarbons (HC), and particulate matter (PM). Shipping emissions are easily transferred long distances in the atmosphere from the sea the land and between the continents. Also, the effects of shipping emissions can increase in the domestic seas, narrow channels, straits, gulfs, and port areas specially including dense maritime traffic, sensitive ecosystems and the presence of populations.

The health effects of air pollution at ports may include asthma, other respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and premature death. Since the port areas are the most recognizable receptors of pollutants emitted from ships, the emissions from ships may threaten the air quality while berthing or maneuvering and in coastal communities while transiting along the coast. Approximately 80% of the world fleet are either harbored (55% of the time) or near a coast and hence it is very important to study the impact of these pollution from the ocean going fleets.

Our team works on this pollution from ships and the led coastal pollutions using
Remote Sensing data,

Ground based Radar measurements along coastline,
Modeling the impact of ocean fleets using 3D Chemical transport models like GEOS-Chem, WRF-Chem etc.
Statistical interpretations.