Quantifying Emissions Reductions in Ships with Crowdsourced Weather Routing

90% of the world's goods are transported by ships, which run on fossil fuel. This creates more greenhouse gas emissions than airlines. There are ports around Nova Scotia for lobster and fishing vessels, ferries, cruise ships and massive container ships, so our provincial economy is tied to the shipping industry and emissions.

There are new international regulations for ships to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 2050. But because it will probably take decades for ships to transition to alternative propulsion, an important way to reduce emissions in the short-term is with data and navigation.

Ships traditionally take the shortest straight-line distance to their destination, powering through heavy seas. But by using weather routing, a ship can take advantage of wind, swell and currents. At SailTimer, we are preparing to expand our crowdsourcing and weather routing from recreational boat navigation to offshore shipping. Crowdsourcing provides real-time weather data from other vessels, with higher resolution than is available from satellite weather. It is possible to calculate offshore routes for ships that may be a longer distance, but arrive faster and with less fuel and emissions, by reducing weather resistance.

Satellite weather forecasts are unreliable. So ship captains often do not use optimal weather routes because they do not trust the weather forecast enough to head miles off-course. Better weather data from crowdsourcing should allow better route calculations and emissions reductions. That should build trust, helping ship captains to trust the data and reduce fuel costs and emissions.

There is a gap in this carbon-reduction pathway, because of practical difficulties documenting how much emissions are reduced when better crowdsourced marine weather data is available, compared to the standard marine weather forecast. This project answers that question, allowing ships to better reduce their fuel costs and emissions.


Craig Summers, SailTimer Inc.

December 1, 2023 – March 31, 2025