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Environmental Audit Committee - Protecting the ArcticWritten evidence submitted by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Increased shipping and any other form of fuel combustion, like development of settlements and industries will increase NOx input to the Arctic atmosphere:

The contribution to NOx at these high latitudes from ship traffic is considerable and visible from space using remote sensing tools.

The MARPOL convention on marine pollution aims to restrict pollutant emissions from international shipping. However, whilst the convention is likely to have a major impact in reducing SO2 emissions over the next decade, the controls will not be effective in controlling the high emissions of NOx from ships.

Computer simulations with atmospheric transport models have demonstrated that NOx emissions from international shipping make a major contribution to nitrogen deposition in northern Europe and contribute to levels of pollution which pose a threat to biodiversity.

Arctic soils, rivers, lakes, fauna and flora are adapted to an environment poor in biologically available nitrogen. Consequences of unrestricted development in the Arctic will increase the presence of biologically reactive nitrogen, which:

increases emissions of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide; and

changes the species composition of its fauna and flora.

15 February 2012

Prepared 19th September 2012