UCL Energy Institute in the UK set out to create an interactive map experience (www.shipmap.org) showing vessel movement data from exactEarth, cross-checking the information with other databases to look at vessel characteristics such as engine type and hull measurements. This allowed the team to compute the CO2 emissions for each observed hour, following the approach taken in the Third IMO Greenhouse Gas Study in 2014.
The dataset was then sent to Kiln to create a visually powerful and interactive map to not only highlight the world’s shipping routes but also look into the world’s carbon emissions levels from global shipping. It is a detailed analysis of the global merchant fleet over the course of 2012, overlaid on a bathymetric map with a few statistics added in such as a counter for emitted CO2 (in thousand tonnes) and maximum freight carried by represented vessels (varying units).
Emissions from international shipping for 2012 were estimated to be 796 million tonnes CO2 which is more than the whole of the UK, Canada or Brazil emit in a year. This breaks down into 2.18 million tonnes per day or 90,868 tonnes CO2 per hour.
The stunning map also showcases a number of interesting insights into the world’s shipping routes including the major choke point around Malaysia and Singapore as well as the patterns of ships transiting around Somalia when piracy levels there were high in 2012. For more map highlights, click here.