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Media release: Halifax Port Authority, Dalhousie researchers study GHG emissions in Halifax harbour

Posted by Communications and Marketing on July 17, 2023 in News

Monday, July 17, 2023 (Halifax, Nova Scotia) – The Halifax Port Authority (HPA) is collaborating with environmental gas monitoring company, Eosense, and researchers at Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s University to better understand the carbon footprint of vessels in the Port of Halifax. With components based out of the PIER (Port Innovation Engagement and Research), the research will establish baseline GHG conditions and monitor the impact of new fuels on marine sector GHG emissions including hydrogen and derivatives like methanol and ammonia.

“Partnering on this research will support the HPA’s goal of becoming a global leader in operating a green port,” says Dr. Sherry Scully, director of Workforce Development, The PIER. "The PIER’s living lab function is demonstrating how research can lead to innovative technologies that can help us address complex challenges like decarbonization, while also fostering a multidisciplinary training environment for students.  A lab doesn’t get more living than that.” 

The research project involves deploying air and water sampling systems between opposite shores of the Halifax harbour and in the Bedford Basin. The measurements will support monitoring of ship emissions of greenhouse gases, including nitrous oxide (N2O), and allow them to be distinguished from emissions due to blooms of microbes which occur sporadically in the harbour waters.

“Coastal waters are of great relevance to study because they emit N2O to the atmosphere due to marine microbial activity that is both natural and human-caused (mainly from agricultural nutrient runoff, but also from increasing temperatures and decreasing ocean oxygen content),” said Dr. Aldona Wiacek, associate professor, Saint Mary’s University. “In order to separate the GHG emission effects of regular port activities from natural processes, an integrated measurement approach is needed that targets the atmosphere, the harbour waters, and the interface between the two.” 

The three-year project is funded by a National Science Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Alliance Missions grant – funding specifically aimed at addressing issues related to climate change. This research will play a critical role in the HPA’s ongoing efforts to fight climate change and protect the environment by taking action to reduce GHG emissions while strengthening the economy with sustainable jobs and clean industrial growth.

Project partners include Dr. Aldona Wiacek, Saint Mary's University (Atmospheric Science), Dr. Douglas Wallace, Dalhousie University (Oceanography), Dr. Julie LaRoche, Dalhousie University (Marine Microbial Ecology), industry partner Eosense Inc. plus many post-secondary students, interns and industry researchers.

Further project information is available here:


Media Contacts:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Communications, Marketing and Creative Services
Dalhousie University
(902) 220-0491

Aldona Wiacek
Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Science
St. Mary’s University
(902) 491-6481

Danielle Boudreau
Communications Officer
Faculty of Science
Saint Mary's University
(902) 420-5526

Nick Nickerson
President, Eosense Inc.
(902) 441-0888

Emma Ross
Communications & Programming Coordinator
(902) 210-3965


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