Characterizing the particle composition and cloud Condensation nuclei from shipping emission in Western Europe

Chenjie Yu, Dominika Pasternak, James Lee, Mingxi Yang, Thomas Bell, Keith Bower, Huihui Wu, Dantong Liu, Chris Reed, Stéphane Bauguitte, Sam Cliff, Jamie Trembath, Hugh Coe, James Allan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Commercial shipping is considered as an important source of air pollution and Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN). To assess the climatic and environmental impacts of shipping, detailed characterization of ship plumes near the point of emission and understanding of ship plume evolution further downwind are essential. This airborne measurement study presents the online characterization of particulate phase ship emissions in the region of Western European in 2019 prior to new international sulfur emission controls becoming enacted. More than thirty ships from both Sulfur Emission Control Area (SECA) in the English Channel and the Open Sea (OS) are measured and compared. Ships within the SECA emitted much less sulfate (SO4) compared with the ships at OS. When shifted to the lower apparent Fuel Sulfur Content (FSC) at similar engine loads, the peak of the fresh ship emitted particle number size distribution shifted from around 60 - 80nm in diameter to below 40nm in diameter. The emission factors (EFs) of sulfate are predicted to decrease by around 94% after the 2020 regulation on ship sulfur emission in the open ocean. The EFs of refractory Black Carbon (rBC) and organic compounds (Org) do not appear to be directly affected by the lower sulfur contents. The total number concentration for Condensation Nuclei (CN) >2.5nm and >0.1μm are predicated to be reduced by 69% and 56% respectively. Measured plume evolution results indicate that the S(IV) to S(VI) conversion rate was around 23.4%/hour at the beginning of plume evolution, and the CCN and CN >2.5nm ratio increased with plume age primarily due to condensation and coagulation. We estimate that the new sulfur emission regulation will lead to a reduction of more than 80% in CCN from fresh ship emissions. The ship emitted EFs results presented here will also inform emission inventories, policymaking, climate and human health studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Nov 2020


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