An international team of researchers has found that shipping pollution along major trade routes can rival carbon emissions in contributing to ocean acidity, according to a release from the University of Delaware. The study is the first global analysis to show the comparison.
Other gases besides carbon dioxide, like oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, can dissolve in water to contribute to ocean acidity. Those oxides are present in the exhaust gases from ship engines. The sulfur dioxide pollution comes from marine fuel oil, while nitrogen dioxide is linked to fuel combustion.
The greatest acidification along the shipping lanes was found to occur in the northern hemisphere in coastal areas during the summer. The oxides contribute to long-range transport of the pollutants, but significant amounts can be deposited within a few hundred miles of shipping lanes.
Researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Chalmers University of Technology, University of Delaware and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies contributed to the study.
Image: Container ship container ship MSC Flaminia (Credit: Danny Cornelissen, via Wikimedia Commons)