Monitoring ship emissions using Sentinel-5P and AIS data

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

18 Downloads (Pure)


Ship pollution has become a growing concern due to its environmental impact. Various policies have been introduced to tackle this issue, such as the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) implemented by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 1973. The MARPOL limits the number of pollutants that ships can release into the environment and requires ships to reduce their sulfur emissions. For instance, the IMO introduced a sulfur cap of 0.5% in marine fuel that came into effect on January 1, 2020. The European Commission estimates an eventual reduction in sulfur air pollutants by 80% in the Mediterranean. The effectiveness of these policies is analyzed using data from Sentinel-5P and Automatic Identification System (AIS) messages. Data analysis shows a correlation between ship routes and pollution levels over the oceans using data from the past six years. Five-year averages and time lapses of yearly averages from Sentinel-5P are analyzed to further understand temporal correlations between pollution levels and ship tracks. Furthermore, the impact of coastal areas and cities on pollution levels is investigated by studying larger areas. It is found that the assessment of ship pollution using Sentinel-5P has some limitations: while nitrogen dioxide can be monitored effectively offshore, sulfur emissions from ships cannot be detected offshore or distinguished from coastal emissions using Sentinel-5P. This presents a significant challenge in monitoring and enforcing regulations aimed at reducing sulfur emissions from ships, especially in areas such as the Mediterranean Sea, which are highly influenced by coastal regions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEarth Resources and Environmental Remote Sensing/GIS Applications XIV
EditorsKarsten Schulz, Ulrich Michel, Konstantinos G. Nikolakopoulos
Place of PublicationBellingham, WA
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781510666979
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2023


  • ship emissions
  • Sentinel-5P
  • sulphur
  • nitrogen dioxide


Dive into the research topics of 'Monitoring ship emissions using Sentinel-5P and AIS data'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this