A NASA study reveals evidence that fuel regulation decreased shipping-related air pollution.
A global standard limiting sulphur in ship fuel reduced artificial “ship track” clouds to record-low levels in 2020.
Disruptions brought on by pandemics played a supporting role.
Ship tracks, the soiled marine clouds left behind by ocean-traveling ships, are a symbol of contemporary trade.
They follow shipping routes throughout the world, from the North Pacific to the Mediterranean Sea, like spectral fingerprints.
However, satellite scans in 2020 revealed fewer of such traces of pollution.
Researchers discovered that the number of ship tracks drastically decreased once a new fuel limit went into force based on roughly two decades' worth of satellite footage.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) will set a worldwide standard in 2020 mandating an 86% decrease in fuel sulphur content.
Scientists developed the first worldwide climatology (a history of observations) of ship tracks using cutting-edge computational techniques.