journal article

Perspectives on shipping emissions and their impacts on the surface ocean and lower atmosphere: an environmental-social-economic dimension


Shipping is the cornerstone of international trade and thus a critical economic sector. However, ships predominantly use fossil fuels for propulsion and electricity generation, which emit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, and air pollutants such as particulate matter, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds. The availability of Automatic Information System (AIS) data has helped to improve the emission inventories of air pollutants from ship stacks. Recent laboratory, shipborne, satellite and modeling studies provided convincing evidence that ship-emitted air pollutants have significant impacts on atmospheric chemistry, clouds, and ocean biogeochemistry. The need to improve air quality to protect human health and to mitigate climate change has driven a series of regulations at international, national, and local levels, leading to rapid energy and technology transitions. This resulted in major changes in air emissions from shipping with implications on their environmental impacts, but observational studies remain limited. Growth in shipping in polar areas is expected to have distinct impacts on these pristine and sensitive environments. The transition to more sustainable shipping is also expected to cause further changes in fuels and technologies, and thus in air emissions. However, major uncertainties remain on how future shipping emissions may affect atmospheric composition, clouds, climate, and ocean biogeochemistry, under the rapidly changing policy (e.g., targeting decarbonization), socioeconomic, and climate contexts.
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