Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Air pollution from ships - a serious threat


Emissions from ships may bring as much nitrogen oxide to the atmosphere as the total amount of emissions coming from the USA. International shipping along the Norwegian coast and in the Northern Atlantic Ocean contributes largely to the formation of ground-level ozone and acidification of the shores.

Air pollution from ships may be twice as bad as shown by previous estimates. In high traffic areas emissions may affect the climate just as much or even more than other forms of emissions. This was stated during a conference on Norwegian climate research, held by the research programme NORKLIMA recently. NORKLIMA is a new and extensive ten year programme focusing on a better understanding of climatic changes in a wide perspective.

A call for action

The transportation of freight by ship is widely regarded as an environmental form of transportation. So far scientists have been uncertain as to what may be the consequences of ships’ exhausts to the environment.

“Emission from ships is one of the fastest growing emission sectors. If the new reports are confirmed, steps must be taken, like we have done with other emission sources,” says Stig Dalsøren at the Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo.

Scientists at the research department of Det norske Veritas (DNV) have concluded that emissions of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide may contribute to global warming, much like emissions from aviation.

The cooperation between the Department of Geosciences and DNV aims to estimate how shipping affects the formation of ground-level ozone, acidification and global warming.

Like the entire USA

Although the topic is discussed internationally, it is widely agreed upon the fact that previous emission estimates have been too low. Scientists in Germany and the USA claim the emissions are higher than what is shown by the estimates of Norwegian scientists.

“American scientists have concluded that the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from ships are as high as the entire amount of emissions coming from the USA,” says Stig Dalsøren.

“They claim that a single industry, shipping, is as large a burden to the environment as one of the greatest air polluters of the world.”

Complicated cocktail

Tankers, cargo ships and other vessels emit a complicated “gas cocktail” into the Earth’s atmosphere. The fuel used by many ships, the so-called bunker oil, contains especially large concentrations of nitrogen and sulphur.

In areas with a lot of shipping traffic, for instance in the Northern Atlantic, the scientists show that the ships contribute largely to the formation of ground-level ozone and acidification.

“Emissions form many different gases in the atmosphere, like ozone, known as greenhouse gas, which is hazardous to health, agriculture and vegetation. And there is sulphate, found in acid rain, which also affects the climate,” Dalsøren explains.

“The experts estimate a 100 percent increase in ground-level ozone over the Northern Atlantic Ocean and up to 10 percent increase of the acidification in certain coastal areas,” Dalsøren says.

Expert disagreement

The measurements are based on the sale of ship fuel and engine consumption. However, the level of emissions from ships is hard to estimate, because it is spread all over the world. Scientist Øyvind Endresen and his colleagues at DNV estimate that the total amount of emissions is less than what has been suggested by the Americans.

“There is disagreement about the number of days of operation, the speed and engine power of the ships and how the fuel consumption varies accordingly,” says Dalsøren.

No regulations

According to the scientists, the subject at hand has not been given sufficient attention. This is because it has been hard to measure the extent of the problem.

“The calculations of pollutant emissions have not been good enough. Although it has been suspected that the effects are considerable, there have been few restrictions. And toxic emissions from ships are not included in the Kyoto protocol.”

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has realised that measures must be taken, which will happen when, or if, a sufficient amount of countries ratify a new international convention to reduce emissions from ships.

Paul Torvik Nilsen | The Research Council of Norway
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>