Shipping Remains a Globally Significant Source of Anthropogenic PN Emissions Even after 2020 Sulfur Regulation

Niina Kuittinen, Jukka-Pekka Jalkanen, Jenni Alanen, Leonidas Ntziachristos, Hanna Hannuniemi, Lasse Johansson, Panu Karjalainen, Erkka Saukko, Mia Isotalo, Päivi Aakko-Saksa, Kati Lehtoranta, Jorma Keskinen, Pauli Simonen, Sanna Saarikoski, Eija Asmi, Tuomas Laurila, Risto Hillamo, Fanni Mylläri, Heikki Lihavainen, Hilkka TimonenTopi Rönkkö (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Shipping is the main source of anthropogenic particle emissions in large areas of the globe, influencing climate, air quality, and human health in open seas and coast lines. Here, we determined, by laboratory and on-board measurements of ship engine exhaust, fuel-specific particle number (PN) emissions for different fuels and desulfurization applied in shipping. The emission factors were compared to ship exhaust plume observations and, furthermore, exploited in the assessment of global PN emissions from shipping, utilizing the STEAM ship emission model. The results indicate that most particles in the fresh ship engine exhaust are in ultrafine particle size range. Shipping PN emissions are localized, especially close to coastal lines, but significant emissions also exist on open seas and oceans. The global annual PN produced by marine shipping was 1.2 × 1028 (±0.34 × 1028) particles in 2016, thus being of the same magnitude with total anthropogenic PN emissions in continental areas. The reduction potential of PN from shipping strongly depends on the adopted technology mix, and except wide adoption of natural gas or scrubbers, no significant decrease in global PN is expected if heavy fuel oil is mainly replaced by low sulfur residual fuels. The results imply that shipping remains as a significant source of anthropogenic PN emissions that should be considered in future climate and health impact models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129–138
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number1
Early online date8 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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