Dynamic EDB for shipping

Shipping emits considerable amounts of different air pollutants, which have an impact on the climate, human health and the environment. Still, the knowledge on emissions from this sector is very poor. The project “Dynamic Emission Database for Shipping” is a joint effort to improve the situation. Using AIS (GPS-positions for individual ships) and ship properties from the databases of the Swedish Maritime Administration, the aim is to create an Airviro application for calculation of ship emissions bottom-up with very high resolution.


The overall objective of the project is to improve the knowledge about the impact of emissions from shipping on the climate, the environment and human health. This will be accomplished by the development of a dynamic bottom-up emission database. The database will be updated in real-time and it will be available over the web. The database is meant to improve the precision, resolution, completeness and transparency of emission calculations for shipping.

The dynamic emission database will be part of the Airviro-system. This makes it fully integrated with tools for dispersion modeling, monitoring data and presentation.

By storing AIS-data with high resolution, it will be possible to use the system both on a large scale and for local studies. To begin with, the system will focus on the HELCOM AIS-region. This area covers the Baltic and the North Sea outside of Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Using another source for AIS-data and completing the ship database, the system could be also be used in other places of the world.

Examples of use are:

  • Environmental impact studies for harbours or regions
  • Comparison of emission scenarios (e.g. changes in fuel qualities or pollution abatement systems)
  • Improved indicators for regional or national environmental objectives
  • Improved input to regional or national emission inventories


The shipping emits considerable amounts of different air pollutants which have an impact on the climate, human health and the environment. While emissions from land-based sources are well known and a lot of work to reduce them has been done, the knowledge about emissions from shipping is poor.

During the latest years, the use of AIS (Automatic Identification System) has increased. AIS constitutes a new standard for the positioning of ships in Europe, and is complementary to radar. Via AIS, data concerning identity, position, speed etc. is sent with short time intervals via VHF-radio. AIS gives access to a vast amount of ship specific information. Besides the information directly usable, such as position and speed, the identity of the ships can be used to combine AIS with other data sources. The use of AIS makes it possible to drastically improve the spatial and temporal resolution of shipping emissions, it also provide a complete listing of all larger ships within reach of the AIS-network.

Three main components together make it feasible to improve the knowledge on ship emissions in the Baltic region:

  • AIS - identities, positions and metadata for individual ships
  • SEI (Ship Emission Information) - a database managed by the Swedish Maritime Administration. This database provides emission factors for all ships
  • Airviro - a system for Air Quality Management distinguished by its performance when handling large amounts of data

Project outline

The project is a cooperation between three parts. The work is coordinated by SMA (Swedish Maritime Administration) and SMHI (Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute). The third part, Lighthouse (maritime competence centre within Chalmers University), provides a connection to the academic world.

The development is financed by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and SMA. The resulting system will mainly be financed by the users.

The project is divided into two phases. The first phase concerns basic functionality while the second phase focuses on special applications and quality improvement. The first phase is to be finished at the end of 2009.

Technical description

The Dynamic Emission Database is built using a bottom-up approach. Emission factors for each single ship are chosen based on properties, such as installed effect, ship-type and fuel quality. Using the emission factors and the current speed of the ship provided by AIS, the emissions are then calculated. The information concerning ships properties and emission factors is provided by SEI (Ship Emission Information), a database developed bv SMA (Swedish Maritime Administration). The Airviro system exchange data with SEI, making all ships and emission factors in the registers of the Swedish Maritime Administration available to Airviro. Through criteria given for meta-data, time and position, Airviro can be used for emission calculations for any area, time-period and sub-set of ships of interest.

AIS gives access to a huge amount of data. In order to make emission calculations for large areas and for periods of a year or more, computational performance is crucial. Airviro handles this using an industry strength time-series database to store ship positions.

Shipair System
The system design is shown in the figure above. Enlarge Image

Project coordinators

Reidar Grundström, Swedish Maritime Administration
e-mail: reidar.grundstrom@sjofartsverket.se
phone: +46 11-19 10 38

David Segersson, SMHI
e-mail: david.segersson@smhi.se
phone: +46 11-495 82 59

Steering committee

Titus Kyrklund, Per Andersson (Swedish EPA)
Lars Gidhagen (SMHI)
Anna Staaf (SMA)