National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2012

Impact of fuel quality regulation and speed reductions on shipping emissions: Implications for climate and air quality

Lack, D.A., C.D. Cappa, J. Langridge, R. Bahreini, G. Buffaloe, C. Brock, K. Cerully, D. Coffman, K. Hayden, J. Holloway, B. Lerner, P. Massoli, S.M. Li, R. McLaren, A.M. Middlebrook, R. Moore, A. Nenes, I. Nuaanan, T.B. Onasch, J. Peischl, A. Perring, P.K. Quinn, T. Ryerson, J.P. Schwartz, R. Spackman, S.C. Wofsy, D. Worsnop, B. Xiang, and E. Williams

Environ. Sci. Tech., 45(20), 9052–9060, doi: 10.1021/es2013424 (2011)

Atmospheric emissions of gas and particulate matter from a large ocean-going container vessel were sampled as it slowed and switched from high-sulfur to low-sulfur fuel as it transited into regulated coastal waters of California. Reduction in emission factors (EFs) of sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter, particulate sulfate and cloud condensation nuclei were substantial (≥90%). EFs for particulate organic matter decreased by 70%. Black carbon (BC) EFs were reduced by 41%. When the measured emission reductions, brought about by compliance with the California fuel quality regulation and participation in the vessel speed reduction (VSR) program, are placed in a broader context, warming from reductions in the indirect effect of SO4 would dominate any radiative changes due to the emissions changes. Within regulated waters absolute emission reductions exceed 88% for almost all measured gas and particle phase species. The analysis presented provides direct estimations of the emissions reductions that can be realized by California fuel quality regulation and VSR program, in addition to providing new information relevant to potential health and climate impact of reduced fuel sulfur content, fuel quality and vessel speed reductions.

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