Researchers from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have discovered that pollutant emissions from the shipping sector increased significantly in major international seaports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
amely, in Singapore, the NTU research team found that emissions were modelled to have more than doubled (123%), during the pandemic period, while they increased twofold in Los Angeles (100%), almost two-thirds (65%) in Long Beach, California, and over a quarter (27%) in Hamburg, Germany.
The NTU study also modelled that ship emissions in all four ports increased by an average of 79%, due to the increased turnaround time in port, with extended ‘hoteling’ time at berth and anchorage areas as longer operational times were needed due to pandemic-related delays.
Professor Law Wing Keung, Adrian, from NTU’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who led the study, said on the research that:
Our study presents a review of the ship emission outlook amid the pandemic uncertainty. Lockdown measures and other COVID-19 restrictions on human activity have upended the landscape for the shipping sector and significantly affected the operating patterns of maritime and trade
The research team’s computations of pollutant emissions were from July 2020 to July 2021, which was at the height of the pandemic. The findings were compared to the whole of 2019 which is taken as the baseline year with business-as-usual emissions.
The findings serve as a stark contrast against findings from the NASA Earth Observatory that the freeze in industrial processes and human activity arising from the pandemic resulted in generally lower air pollution
said the researchers from NTU.
The pollutants studied in the research were carbon dioxide, sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and methane.
Although they typically spend the least time in ports, dry bulk carriers, which are merchant ships designed to transport unpackaged bulk cargo, such as grains, coal, ore, and cement, experienced the biggest increase in pollutant emissions
explained Liu Jiahui, a PhD student from NTU’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who was first author of the study.