Called SEANA (Shipping Emissions in the Arctic and North Atlantic Atmosphere), the project also includes partners from the University of Exeter, British Antarctic Survey and Cranfield University, and is expected to run for 5 years, starting from 2019.

The scientific team, comprising Dr Zongbo Shi, Professor Roy Harrison, Dr David Beddows and Dr Manuel Dall’Osto (honorary researcher), of Birmingham’s School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, seeks to better understand the impact of increasing ship traffic in the Arctic and also the impact of the IMO's emission regulation on atmospheric aerosols and the climate in the Arctic and North Atlantic Atmosphere (ANAA).

For the first time, SEANA will carry out synergistic yearlong observations at Faroe Islands and Greenland and intensive field studies on research ships along the Northwest Passage (NWP), with a focus on aerosol and cloud condensation nuclei (CNN) sources and processes.  The new data will be integrated with recent and ongoing measurements at existing ANAA stations in order to generate a benchmark dataset on aerosol baselines in ANAA. SEANA will also employ a ‘before and after’ regulation observation to determine the “real-world” impact of IMO regulation on aerosol and CCN.

The new datasets will be used to evaluate and improve a global aerosol model to represent key aerosol sources and processes, including shipping emissions as well as model responses to emission changes in ANAA.  The researchers will apply their improved model to provide robust predictions on both the impact of future shipping traffic and IMO regulation on aerosol and the climate in the Northwest Passage.

The new IMO regulation will be implemented in January 2020 to reduce the maximum fuel sulphur content by ships in international waters from 3.5% to 0.5%. This offers an unprecedented and never-again opportunity to observe how our atmosphere responds to this major ‘natural’ perturbation. Such observations will significantly enhance our understanding of the role of shipping emissions play in the wider climate change debate. This will help us to validate and improve global climate models to more accurately predict climate change and to find out how we can best tackle this issue,

...said Dr. Zongbo Shi, lead investigator from the University of Birmingham’s School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

SEANA also involves ten international partners - Faroe Islands Environment Agency, Korea Polar Research Institute, Stockholm University, Aarhus University, Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Science – CNR, University of Florence, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Italy Laboratory for Observations and Analyses of Earth and Climate, University of Toronto and University of Helsinki.