Source: Science for Environment Policy
Levels of air pollution significantly increase on the island of Svalbard in the Norwegian Arctic when tourist cruise ships are present, according to a recent study. With shipping levels rising in the region, the researchers recommend that stricter emissions regulations are introduced in order to limit the impact of pollution on the Arctic environment.
Ship traffic is a major source of pollution globally. It is a particular concern in regions with heavy ship traffic, or where few other sources of pollution exist, such as the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Shipping in the high Arctic region is currently limited by sea ice. However, a warming climate is shrinking summer sea ice cover which means more ships can take shorter routes through the Arctic to cut journey times.
Ship traffic is also likely to increase as oil and gas extraction in the Arctic becomes more intensive. During the last 20 years, the number of tourist cruise ships has also increased greatly in the polar regions, and there is concern that the associated emissions could affect polar atmospheres and fragile ecosystems.