Pollution Monitoring of ship emissions: an Integrated approach for harbours in the Adriatic basin


Harbours are important hubs for economic growth in both tourism and commercial activities. They are also an environmental burden being a source of atmospheric pollution often localized near cities and industrial complexes. The POSEIDON project investigates the impact on air quality of four major harbours in the Adriatic/Ionian Seas, using a common state-of-the-art methodology based on emission inventories, numerical modelling and experimental results that will produce comparable information useful to plan future actions and controls of emissions in the Adriatic/Ionian macroregion.


  • Emission inventories in the four port-cities of the Adriatic/Ionian area (Brindisi, Patras, Rijeka and Venice) showed that maritime emissions of particulate matter and NOx are comparable with those of road traffic. Considering the increasing trend of maritime traffic worldwide in the next years, it is clear that this is a pollution source to be taken under serious consideration in the MED area by national and regional governments and by the European authorities.
  • The evaluation of the impact of maritime activities on local air quality should be addressed at transnational level using comparable approaches integrating modelling and experimental results to identify mitigation strategies that could be applied at large scale (i.e. Mediterranean scale or European Macro-region scale) without hindering economic competitiveness of the harbors involved.
  • The impact of maritime traffic and harbor activity on atmospheric particulate matter is higher regarding the concentration of small particles (ultrafine and nanoparticles with diameter lower than 200 nm). Particles of this size are currently not considered in the European legislation and therefore there is a limited amount of available data; however concentrations of such particle sizes are a better metric for evaluating the impact of this type of pollution source and for monitoring the inter-annual trends in the next future.
  • The analysis performed for the harbor of Venice showed that the use of low-sulphur content fuels in ships has proven to be efficient in reducing the impact on primary particles concentration (in addition to SO2 concentrations), however, it had a limited effect on other pollutants like NOx, metals and PAHs. Future actions could involve improvement of the international legislation or guidelines to curb ship emissions of these pollutants.


  • ASSESSMENT OF AIR POLLUTION IMPACTS IN OF FOUR HARBOURS OF THE A-I SEAS: An integrated methodology based on an emission inventories methodology, numerical models and experimental data has been developed and applied to four port-cities of the Adriatic/Ionian area. Emissions of particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) and nitrogen oxides are comparable, at municipality level, with those of road traffic. The impacts of ship traffic on PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations are variable between 1% and 8% and are larger (between 6% and 22%) on ultrafine particles number concentrations (small particles with diameter less than 200 nm). Impacts on gaseous pollutant concentrations (NOx and SO2) are 3-5 times larger than that on PM2.5 and PM10.
  • TECHNICAL REPORT ON THE IDENTIFICATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY GAPS AND PROPOSAL OF FUTURE COMMON MITIGATION STRATEGIES AND ACTIONS FOR THE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT OF HARBOURS OF THE ADRIATIC-IONIAN SEAS (AVAILABLE HERE) Ultrafine particles (lower than 200 nm in diameter) are currently not considered in European legislation, however concentrations of such particle sizes are a better metric for evaluating the impact of maritime activities on atmospheric aerosol and for monitoring the inter-annual trends in the future. Legislations to curb ship emissions address mainly SO2 emissions (use of low-Sulphur fuels). This has a positive effect also on particulate matter emissions, however, limited or negligible effects are observed on other pollutants (e.g. metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, black carbon) that are important for their potential impact on environment (health, climate and ecosystems). Impact of pollutants released in harbor-related activities (hoteling, loading, unloading of ships) represent an important share of the impact of maritime activities on air pollution. Development and application of guidelines and legislations specific for logistic management of harbors could be important for local air quality in port-cities.
  • COMMON PRESENTATION OF RESULTS IN TWO INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES The Project results were presented to and discussed within the scientific community at two International Conferences: 2 presentations at the 17th International Conference on Aerosol Science and Technology (ICAST 2015, Lisbon 16-17 April 2015) and 3 contributions at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly (EGU2015, Wien 12-17 April 2015). Moreover, presentation of a methodology on air quality multi-model ensembles, used for the POSEIDON purposes, at the 34th International Technical Meeting on Air Pollution Modelling and its Application (ITM 2015, Montpellier, France). These are important steps to raise awareness on maritime-related atmospheric pollution and to promote and consolidate a network of communication between research institutions, local governments and the public.


  • The impact of maritime traffic and harbor activities emissions to local air quality in Mediterranean port-cities is influenced by both in-port emissions and emissions of international traffic (not berthing in MED harbors). It is important to orient future cooperation projects to distinguish the impacts of the two typologies of ship traffic, using robust scientific approaches. This because mitigation strategies and actions are different for the two typology of maritime traffic from the technical and the legislative point of views.


  • Export the integrated methodology developed in POSEIDON to investigate the maritime activities impact to atmospheric pollutants on other coastal cities of the MED basin with focus on ultrafine and nanoparticles (with diameter lower than 200 nm), metals, PAHs and, possibly, carbonaceous species that have a long-term impact on climate. This will give an overview picture regarding the “weight” of maritime transport to atmospheric pollution compared with other form of transport (mainly road and air transport in the MED area).
  • To consolidate a network, at Mediterranean scale, among the local and environmental authorities, the research institutions and the public to foster common, large scale, actions for curbing air pollution impact of maritime transport still maintain economic, commercial and tourist development of MED coastal areas.


  • Synergies with CAIMANS and SMARTPORT projects that lead to the organization of common events including the Workshop “Air quality in Mediterranean port cities” organized in Venice and the public conference on “Mediterranean: ships, harbours and cities” organized in Genoa.
  • Capitalization of previous experiences, results and synergies of past projects like the CESAPO project(Interreg Greece-Italy 2007-2013) and the APICE project (MED program 2007-2013).