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7 Mar 2018
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Rise in Arctic shipping traffic can cause problems

arctic shipping
Above image is used for illustration purposes only

Nowadays, the shipping routes and traffic in the Arctic have been increased. This results in higher Black Carbon (BC) emissions from combustion of heavy fuel oil (HFO), which causes ice melting, health risks and shipping incidents.

According to Clean Arctic Alliance, shipping traffic in Alaskan waters has increased dramatically in recent years, as from 2008 to 2015, the traffic in Alaska has increased by 150%. The traffic is expected to further develop, as the melting of the ice will provide the ability for more ship passing through these waters.

Credit: Clean Arctic Alliance

Furthermore, Arctic waters are in danger because of the HFO.

Most ships that sail in these water use HFO, something that can cause serious problems. This fact can possibly cause an environmental disaster, as variable ice coverage, storms and lack of infrastructure enhance the danger of oil spills.

Clean Arctic Alliance, continues by saying that the use of HFO produces high level of Black Carbon Emissions. These emissions are 3200 times more than CO2 per ton and they are expected to increase in the coming years because of the Arctic traffic.

It is notable that Black Carbon’s effect is three times higher in the Arctic.

Credit: Clean Arctic Alliance

Additionally, Black Carbon can cause health problems, as HFO combustion pollutants, including BC, are linked to increased heart and lung disease.

Except from the above, the consequences expand to an economical level as well. Economic loss is expected because of increased temperatures and rising sea levels from shipping emissions in the Northern Sea Route.

In a recent report, The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) noted that CO2 concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere increased with a record speed in 2016, with only last year’s increase 50% higher than the average of the past 10 years.

According to the WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, a combination of human activities and the El Niño weather phenomenon drove CO2 to a level not seen in 800,000 years.

However, a switch from HFO to higher quality fuels and a regulatory HFO ban could reduce black carbon and other emissions. Particularly, using particulate filter would further reduce black carbon by up to 90%, Clean Arctic Alliance notes.

Credit: Clean Arctic Alliance

Moreover, in a report published by Carbon Brief, it is mentioned that countries representing around 36% of global emissions have already peaked their emissions. This fact can be an indicator that some of the worst warming scenarios can be prevented, the report says.

Carbon Brief notices that 60% of current global emissions are occurring in countries that have or will soon peak their emissions. This is an optimistic fact, as it might be possible to keep up with limiting global heating in 2C.

For further details view the following infographic:

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