Burning dirty fuel in ships may nourish world’s ocean and combat global warming
Ships, in particular cargo ships, use dirty residual oil with high concentrations of impurities as fuel. As a result, particulate matter from ship chimney contains high concentrations of trace elements including iron, cobalt, copper, phosphorus and nickel. Some of these chemicals could provide nutrients such as phosphorus and iron to marine phytoplankton, which may stimulate primary productivity and thus cool the climate. On the other hand, ship emitted particulate matter also contain chemicals that may be toxic to plankton, such as copper. Therefore, a key question to answer is what is the overall impact of ship emitted particulate matter on marine phytoplankton? Or can such particles actually help to stimulate primary productivity)? An additional question is can the predicted increase in international shipping in the future help to combat global warming? To answer these questions, we need to quantify the amount and speciation of different chemicals and more importantly their bioavailability. It is also important to know how the bioavailability of ship emitted particulate matter changes during atmospheric transport. However, there is no such information available.
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