As Arctic warms, increased shipping likely to accelerate climate change

As Arctic warms, increased shipping likely to accelerate climate change
If the Arctic Ocean continues to warm, new shipping lanes could emerge at the top of the world, as shown in these scenarios. An increase in shipping under current pollution controls in the Arctic could further accelerate warming. Credit: Figure courtesy of Prof. James Corbett, University of Delaware; published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Vol. 10, 2010.

As the ice-capped Arctic Ocean warms, ship traffic will increase at the top of the world. And if the sea ice continues to decline, a new route connecting international trading partners may emerge -- but not without significant repercussions to climate, according to a U.S. and Canadian research team that includes a University of Delaware scientist.

Growing Arctic ship traffic will bring with it that has the potential to accelerate change in the world's northern reaches. And it's more than a problem -- engine exhaust particles could increase warming by some 17-78 percent, the researchers say.

James J. Corbett, professor of marine science and policy at UD, is a lead author of the first geospatial approach to evaluating the potential impacts of shipping on Arctic climate. The study, "Arctic Shipping Emissions Inventories and Future Scenarios," is published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

Corbett's coauthors include D. A. Luck, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo.; James J. Winebrake, of the Rochester Institute of Technology; Susie Harder of Transport Canada in Vancouver, British Columbia; Jordan A. Silberman of GIS Consulting in Unionville, Pa.; and Maya Gold of the Canadian Coast Guard in Ottawa, Ontario.

"One of the most potent 'short-lived climate forcers' in diesel emissions is black carbon, or soot," says Corbett, who is on the faculty of UD's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. "Ships operating in or near the Arctic use advanced diesel engines that release black carbon into one of the most sensitive regions for ."

Produced by ships from the incomplete burning of marine fuel, these of carbon act like 'heaters' because they absorb sunlight -- both directly from the sun, and reflected from the surface of snow and ice. Other particles released by ship engines also rank high among important short-lived climate forcers, and this study estimates their combined global warming impact potential.

To better understand the potential impact of black carbon and other ship pollutants on climate, including carbon dioxide, methane and ozone, the research team produced high-resolution (5-kilometer-by-5-kilometer) scenarios that account for growth in shipping in the region through 2050, and also outline potential new Arctic shipping routes.

Among the research team's most significant findings:

  • Global warming potential in 2030 in the high-growth scenario suggests that short-lived forcing of ~4.5 gigatons of black carbon from Arctic shipping may increase the global warming potential due to ships' carbon dioxide emissions (~42,000 gigagrams) by some 17-78 percent.
  • Ship traffic diverting from current routes to new routes through the Arctic is projected to reach 2 percent of global traffic by 2030 and to 5 percent in 2050. In comparison, shipping volumes through the Suez and Panama canals currently account for about 4 percent and 8 percent of global trade volume, respectively.
  • A Northwest Passage and Northeast Passage through the Arctic Ocean would provide a distance savings of about 25 percent and 50 percent, respectively, with coincident time and fuel savings. However, the team says tradeoffs from the short-lived climate forcing impacts must be studied.
  • To calculate possible benefits of policy action, the study provides "maximum feasible reduction scenarios" that take into account the incorporation of emissions control technologies such as seawater scrubbers that absorb sulfur dioxide emitted during the burning of diesel fuel. Their scenario shows that with controls, the amount of Arctic from shipping can be reduced in the near term and held nearly constant through 2050.
"To understand the value of addressing short-lived climate forcers from shipping, you need to know the impacts of these emissions, the feasibility and availability of technologies that could be put in place to reduce these impacts, and then engage the policy-making community to debate the evidence and agree on a plan," Corbett notes. "Our hope is that this study will enable better communication of emerging science with policy makers and aid the eight Arctic Council nations with climate policy."

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Citation: As Arctic warms, increased shipping likely to accelerate climate change (2010, October 25) retrieved 16 June 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2010-10-arctic-shipping-climate.html
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Oct 25, 2010
Artic routes will be a boon to shipping, extensively cutting fuel costs and quantities. As the ships change course and cease using the Cape route, the world will see a huge cost savings. And with reduced shipping, any sea life down that way will have less annoyance.

Oct 25, 2010
This is a weird one. Anyone who thinks increased shipping in the north will affect climate or water temperature is totally out of touch with reality. Now if each ship dropped an A-bomb up north, then some impact would be certain. And if less fuel is used than otherwise, there's a net savings. Let's get some reviewers to at least bring common sense to these posts.

Oct 25, 2010
nuclear ships, and the carbon savings would not only come from reduced distance but from the choice of fuel as well, also i am entertaining the idea of floating concrete aquaduct shipping lane, filled with oil running straight over the north pole, this oil will act as an antifreeze agent, transportmedium for the ships and the oil itself could be transported as if it was a huge pipeline, a pipeline with ships cruising through it, the ships would no longer need internal diesel engines but could be powered electreically by for instance windturbines build on top of the floating oilduct, leftover power could be either transported to north-america, russia or Europa, depending which side of the earth has demand/nighttime.

Oct 25, 2010
note, only the top layer of the aqua/oilduct has to be oil or another lighter than water antifreeze agent, otherwise the mere oilvolume of the canal would be larger than the worlds reserves i suppose...alternatively a less bulky floating railway could be instructed instead wich would do the job as well.

Oct 25, 2010
WHAT!? CARBON SOOT COULD BE MELTING THE GLACIERS???

I'm surprised that this was allowed to be disseminated as it could weaken the case for AGW via CO2

Oct 25, 2010
Nothing to worry about. It's not like black snow melts any faster...

http://www.arctic...ng-agent

I wonder if joefarah gives investment advice; I could get filthy rich by doing the exact opposite...

@Sanescience,
WHAT!? CARBON SOOT COULD BE MELTING THE GLACIERS???
Every little bit helps. Lowered albedo => faster melting => more solar heat absorption => more heat for atmospheric greenhouse effect to work with => accentuated effectiveness of gases like CO2 over the impacted regions.

Oct 25, 2010
why the hell to you tards think we should pollute another area of the earth that is has been fucked with as much....the oil we ship should be dumped on every american city with more then a million people and set on fire

Oct 25, 2010
oh yeah we are gonna invade alaska so you stupid child raping fucks arent allowed up here

Oct 26, 2010
So, I'm just gonna go ahead and mark you under the "no" group...

Oct 26, 2010
One thing is for sure. Increased shipping will affect migration patterns of Arctic sea animals on top of the fact that the lack of ice will all ready have done this.

Oct 26, 2010
Shorter transport routs will cut fuel use and therefore reduce CO2 input. CO2 and aerosols created in other latitudes get quickly transported and distributed all over the globe. The location of the source is of small concequence. The net reduction in shipping fuel use might be significant though.

HOWEVER, this all rests on the ASSUMPTION that polar ice will recede enough to open a SAFE enough passage to make the savings worth the risks. Polar ice hasn't receded that much yet, so don't get too scared until there is really something to be scared of. Personally, I think the fear is overblown and these people preying on your good intentions.

Oct 26, 2010
The Physorg Paradox:
Many of the same individuals who feel compelled to read the latest science news are also the same individuals who have the least regard for scientific thought.
Climate dynamics are very complex. Climate scientists account for many of the variables that the public assumes they have overlooked.

Oct 26, 2010
Looks like someone forgot to inform this Canadian Research team that we've moved on from using AGW and even Climate Change to force all people (except for the very rich and powerful) to live like pre-industrial serfs. The new "Its Climate Change Stupid" is "Its Overpopulation stupid". Clearly as with AGW & climate change, mans invasion of the great north with his most evil ships will cause over population in a region unable to handle such extensive growth.

Its bad enough they give us hard to validate excuses like AGW,Climate Change and now Overpopulation to sell to the masses; the least everyone could do is get on board with using the same sales pitch. Geeeesh its like working with ADD kids.

Oct 26, 2010
I'm not certain that black carbon is really an issue if we simply fix the exhaust filtration systems of the ships. A lot of these engines are rather old. Diesel electric hybrid based drives are already being devloped, in addition to nuclear, and in some cases solar.

Cross artic shipping with a solar drive ship would work very well for 6 months out of the year. Filtered diesel electric ships are far cleaner than the old junk we currently use and boast far higher load capacity. The Japanese have already produced several such ships in the solar, nuclear, and diesel/electric hybrid format.

That and without quantifying exactly how black carbon flows to or from the poles we can't say for certain what the exact rammifications will be. I would assume negative, as the authors did, but more research is needed.

Oct 26, 2010
"Diesel electric hybrid based drives are already being devloped"

Yeah, they called them U-boats. Duh. Sorry skeptic, I couldn't resist. :)

Oct 26, 2010
The Physorg Paradox:
Many of the same individuals who feel compelled to read the latest science news are also the same individuals who have the least regard for scientific thought.
Climate dynamics are very complex. Climate scientists account for many of the variables that the public assumes they have overlooked.


Looking at some of the sloppy proofs, 90 percentile "findings", and hockey sticks; "climate scientists" are often an oxymoron.

Oct 26, 2010
The Physorg Paradox:
Many of the same individuals who feel compelled to read the latest science news are also the same individuals who have the least regard for scientific thought.
Climate dynamics are very complex. Climate scientists account for many of the variables that the public assumes they have overlooked.


You think physorg is bad in regard to posting un-scientific, non-peer reviewed opinion pieces disguised as science? I can cite several instances of the same in IPCC reports. It's also extremely easy to find peer reviewed studies, throughout history, which have been taken as scientific fact, (in any field of study you can name, not just climate) that were later proven to be wrong or have been replaced by more popular theories over time.

Good science is science which questions itself continuously.

Oct 26, 2010
If the ultimate goal of those who fear "global warming" is to prevent the earth's climate from changing, how do they propose to accomplish this?

Beyond controlling our economies and increasing taxes, how do they plan on overcoming the entire natural system of climatic variation and forcing it to their will?

It's beyond hubris - It's madness!

Anti industrial, anti liberty, and anti human ideologies are bound to be destroyed by their own fallacies - or by angry populations who reject their totalitarian agendas.

Oct 30, 2010
Hey, i just found an old video of russians build a 100 miles railroad on top of a frozen lake to supply the besieged city of leningrad during the war, so maybe, a floating railway over the northpole is not such an unfeasible idea, they could even build one from pykrete

Oct 31, 2010
Hey, i just found an old video of russians build a 100 miles railroad on top of a frozen lake to supply the besieged city of leningrad during the war, so maybe, a floating railway over the northpole is not such an unfeasible idea, they could even build one from pykrete


Santa has one of those already. =)

Seriously though, the logic of this article is anything but sound. It comes off as more of a speculative commentary and nothing more.

Oct 31, 2010
So now it's particulate matter that causes global warming?

How does this theory account for the uncontrolled burning of wildfires before the era of modern forestry?

Oct 31, 2010
Shootist: You said: "Looking at some of the sloppy proofs, 90 percentile "findings", and hockey sticks; "climate scientists" are often an oxymoron." Great sound bites, but untrue (not that it has mattered in the past to you).

First of all, there are thousands of pieces to the field of climate change. You site "sloppy proofs." Why don't you please list some. First of all, I am not sure I have seen any "proofs" since those tend to be mathematical and I see hypotheses instead. Please show your work.

You then talk about "90% findings." So? When they cite the uncertainty with their analysis, that is exactly what they should be doing and any scientist reading the work will see the uncertainty there. It is when they don't cite the uncertainty that they are doing a disservice. I have to assume you must have no scientific background beyond a technician. Please correct me so I know how best to address your concerns. Right now I have to consider that you just don't know science


Oct 31, 2010
Shootist: Continued (I hate the 1000 character limit). Then, you hit the sound bite of the "hockey stick." Of course every investigation of the hockey stick has shown it could be improved but it was not fundamentally wrong. There have been 5 investigations by different scientific bodies and there have been enhancements as well. However, the shape is nearly the same. You can't just dismiss it without proof (Oh, I forgot who I was talking to - you can dismiss it without any reason). Please show me the smoking gun that shows that the hockey stick was fundamentally wrong or has been substantially changed. Please don't use FOX "news," Rush, or Watts. Try something with real scientists involved.

All I am asking you to do is to find some scientific information that backs up your sound-bites. Please produce it.

Oct 31, 2010
I think that if we split enough hairs we may be able to make very light baskets.

Furthermore most people already know that dark surfaces absorb more heat and that ice with soot on it will melt. I don't know why so many comments sounded incredulous.

So it is not so far fetched that dirty shipping will turn ice deposits dark. Solution: clean shipping. All based on the assumption that shipping lanes will be open.

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