The retreat of Arctic sea ice has led to renewed calls to exploit Arctic shipping routes. The diversion of ship traffic through the Arctic will shorten shipping routes and possibly reduce global shipping emissions. However, deposition of black carbon (BC) aerosol emitted by additional Arctic ships could cause a reduction in the albedo of snow and ice, accelerating snowmelt and sea ice loss. Here we use recently compiled Arctic shipping emission inventories for 2004 and 2050 together with a global aerosol model to quantify the contribution of future Arctic shipping to high-latitude BC deposition. Our results show that Arctic shipping in 2050 will contribute less than 1% to the total BC deposition north of 60°N due to the much greater relative contribution of BC transported from non-shipping sources at lower latitudes. We suggest that regulation of the Arctic shipping industry will be an insufficient control on high-latitude BC deposition.
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