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Science & Tech

Mapping cargo ship routes around the world

  • May 01, 2016
  • 284 words
  • 2 minutes
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Toys, fruit and compressed gas might seem like three very different things, but they share one common factor: they are transported across the world via ships. Tens of thousands of commercial ships transport products like these every day, fueling the global economy.

This interactive map, created by Kiln and the UCL Energy Institute, shows the movement of the world’s commercial shipping fleet in 2012 based on 250 million individual data points.

You can see routes for five different vessel types as well as statistics including carbon dioxide emissions and maximum freight carried.

The map highlights China’s heavy shipping traffic, with Shanghai being the busiest container port in the world.

Other high traffic areas include the Panama Canal, which sees approximately 14,000 ships passing through it each year. The canal is currently undergoing a 6.9 billion dollar expansion project to allow bigger ships with more containers to pass through.

Despite being such an important part of the global economy, the world’s commercial shipping fleet does have a major downside: it results in the daily production of more than one million tones of carbon dioxide, one of the main contributors to climate change.

According to the World Shipping Council, shipping accounted for approximately 2.1 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. However, they still deem shipping as more carbon-efficient than rail, truck, or air transportation.


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