Australian shipping emissions identified

Sep 03, 2012
Loading a container vessel at the Port of Fremantle, WA.

Ship engine exhaust emissions make up more than a quarter of nitrogen oxide emissions generated in the Australian region according to a recently-published study by CSIRO and the Australian Maritime College in Launceston. Nitrogen oxide is a non-greenhouse gas, unlike similarly named nitrous oxide.

The remainder comes from road and air transport, energy generation, and industrial processes. Global studies indicate that shipping emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulphur contribute to the formation of photochemical smog and particles near land and in ports.

The authors, Dr Ian Galbally from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, and the Australian Maritime College's Dr Laurie Goldsworthy estimate that approximately 30 per cent of anthropogenic and 20 per cent of oxides of sulphur emissions generated in the Australian region may come from shipping.

These are non which have the potential to affect the air quality near , and have consequences for human health and amenity.

Dr Galbally said around 10 per cent of global shipping freight passes through Australian ports annually. "Shipping is a major driver in the Australian economy, with 753 Mt of international exports worth $202 billion passing through Australian ports in 2008-2009."

"There is limited knowledge about the emissions from in coastal regions and ports in Australia, the effects of these emissions on air quality in the surrounding coastal and portside urban regions, or potential effects on human health" he said.

The ports of Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane are located where seasonally-prevailing onshore winds dominate and the pollutants from shipping frequently will be carried into the air-sheds of these major urban population centres.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

"We're seeing increasing regulation of land-based emissions but limited regulation of shipping emissions and expect that in the near-future there will be a need to monitor more closely emissions from shipping," Dr Galbally said.

The authors commenced this study with measurements of ship exhaust emissions on the coastal cement carrier MV Goliath.

Dr Goldsworthy said it is possible to quantify emissions generated based on knowledge of fuel type, fuel origin, engine size, cargo, and speed.

Watch a CSIRO vodcast on ship emissions and air quality:

"We know from previous studies and the Australian Pollutant Inventory that ship emissions off the coast of Australia are substantially larger than in-port ship emissions."

"Nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide at sea are comparable in magnitude with other national sources such as energy generation and industry. They are potentially significant contributors to the air-sheds of major coastal cities," he said.

The study appeared recently in the journal Air Quality and Climate Change.

Explore further: New policymaking tool for shift to renewable energy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Emissions rising faster this decade than last

Oct 02, 2008

The latest figures on the global carbon budget to be released in Washington and Paris indicate a four-fold increase in growth rate of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions since 2000.

Emissions rising faster this decade than last

Sep 26, 2008

The latest figures on the global carbon budget to be released in Washington and Paris today indicate a four-fold increase in growth rate of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions since 2000.

Greenhouse gases from forest soils

Apr 12, 2011

Reactive nitrogen compounds from agriculture, transport, and industry lead to increased emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) from forests in Europe. Nitrous oxide emission from forest soils is at least twice ...

New way to measure nitrous oxide emissions

Mar 06, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- An accurate new way to measure a potent greenhouse gas emitted during agricultural production will help countries to better manage their environmental impact, thanks to Queensland University of Technology ...

Recommended for you

EU leaders seek last-minute climate deal

2 hours ago

European Union leaders came under pressure Thursday to strike a deal aimed at bolstering Brussels as a trailblazer in fighting global climate change as negotiations went down to the wire.

Research team studies 'regime shifts' in ecosystems

4 hours ago

The prehistory of major ecological shifts spanning multiple millennia can be read in the fine print of microscopic algae, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Chromodynamix
not rated yet Sep 04, 2012
Just to clarify Nitrogen Oxides

NO Nitric Oxide (Petroleum engines)
NO2 Nitrogen dioxide (Diesel engines)
N2O4 Nitrogen tetroxide (Rocket fuel oxidiser)
N2O Nitrous Oxide (Laughing gas)

While all are greenhouse gases, they are more relevant in chemical activity. NO and NO2 cause acid rain in combination with SO2.
Nitric Oxide, NO is an issue, as it is formed in hotter running petrol engines, and reacts with atmospheric Oxygen to form Ozone at ground level and is a severe respiratory irritant.