Monitoring Emissions from Cruise Ships in the Port Melbourne

Our Project

This Project was conducted in the period between December 2018 – April 2019 under the ARC Linkage Project on Low-Cost Sensors.

The aim of the project was to assess the impact of emissions from vessels docking at the Station Pier Cruise Ship Terminal at Beacon Cove, Port Melbourne. The study was conducted in collaboration with the Victorian EPA, Deakin University and the Beacon Cove Residents Association, who are particularly concerned about the increased pollution from ships impacting the air quality the residential area.

To monitor background levels of air quality in the port of Melbourne, eight state-of-the-art low-cost KOALA (Knowing Our Ambient, Local Air) monitors were installed in the vicinity of the terminal in late December 2018.. For more information about the KOALAs and how they operate. They included four solar-powered units at ground level in home gardens and four USB-powered units on the balconies and roofs of the apartment blocks. Data collection continued until mid-April 2019, yielding a large and continuous data set spanning over three months.

The cruise ship ‘Spirit of Tasmania’ approaching the cruise ship terminal at Port Melbourne


Emissions from cruise ships were clearly observed as spikes in the particle mass concentration time series detected by the KOALAs. An example is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Time series of PM concentrations measured on one of the apartment balconies. The concentration spikes clearly coincided with the arrival and departure times of the Spirit of Tasmania

The data acquired from the KOALAs included the PM1, PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations, the carbon monoxide concentrations, temperature and relative humidity. Meteorological data, including wind speed and direction were sourced from the nearby BOM station at St Kilda. Cruise ship arrival and departure times were derived from Marine Traffic database. The data are presently being analysed and a report and a scientific paper will be prepared.

Our Team

Project Leader:

  • Professor Lidia Morawska, ILAQH, QUT

QUT Investigators:

  • Professor Matthew Dunbabin
  • Rohan Jayaratne
  • Bryce Christensen
  • Riki Lamont
  • Isak Zing
  • Tara Kuhn
  • Xiaoting Liu


The cruise ship terminal as viewed from one of the apartment balconies where a KOALA is installed