Articles | Volume 11, issue 11
Research article
06 Jun 2011
Research article |  | 06 Jun 2011

Future emissions from shipping and petroleum activities in the Arctic

G. P. Peters, T. B. Nilssen, L. Lindholt, M. S. Eide, S. Glomsrød, L. I. Eide, and J. S. Fuglestvedt

Abstract. The Arctic sea-ice is retreating faster than predicted by climate models and could become ice free during summer this century. The reduced sea-ice extent may effectively "unlock" the Arctic Ocean to increased human activities such as transit shipping and expanded oil and gas production. Travel time between Europe and the north Pacific Region can be reduced by up to 50 % with low sea-ice levels and the use of this route could increase substantially as the sea-ice retreats. Oil and gas activities already occur in the Arctic region and given the large undiscovered petroleum resources increased activity could be expected with reduced sea-ice. We use a bottom-up shipping model and a detailed global energy market model to construct emission inventories of Arctic shipping and petroleum activities in 2030 and 2050 given estimated sea-ice extents. The emission inventories are on a 1×1 degree grid and cover both short-lived components (SO2, NOx, CO, NMVOC, BC, OC) and the long-lived greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O). We find rapid growth in transit shipping due to increased profitability with the shorter transit times compensating for increased costs in traversing areas of sea-ice. Oil and gas production remains relatively stable leading to reduced emissions from emission factor improvements. The location of oil and gas production moves into locations requiring more ship transport relative to pipeline transport, leading to rapid emissions growth from oil and gas transport via ship. Our emission inventories for the Arctic region will be used as input into chemical transport, radiative transfer, and climate models to quantify the role of Arctic activities in climate change compared to similar emissions occurring outside of the Arctic region.

Final-revised paper