Saturday, March 16, 2019

Europe's Busiest Shipping Routes Revealed

Ships around the world are fitted with AIS transponders which automatically report the position, course, and speed, of individual vessels. The Automatic Identification System can be used by websites like MarineTraffic to show the live real-time position of ships across the globe. The accumulated data from AIS transponders can also be used to reveal interesting patterns in ship traffic, such as the location and density of popular shipping lanes.

European Marine Traffic has used the accumulated data of ship traffic in 2017 to visualize the density of European marine traffic. The map reveals the areas of Europe's seas which see the most ship traffic and the shipping lanes which are most used by ships when transporting cargo in Europe. For example the English Channel stands out on the map as an area with extremely dense marine traffic. The English Channel is in fact the world's busiest seaway, with over 500 ships passing through the channel every day.

Other areas that stand out on the map for their heavy marine traffic are the Strait of Gibraltar and the Skagerrak strait. The Strait of Gibraltar is heavily used by marine traffic entering and exiting the Mediterranean Sea while the Skagerrek is the gateway from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea. The Skagerrek strait is uses by around 7,500 vessels every year.

The AIS data for marine traffic also includes information on vessel type. It is therefore possible to create shipping density maps for different types of vessel. Alasdair Rae has done this for the marine traffic around the UK. In Watching the Ships go By Alasdair has created maps which show the most popular shipping routes used by cargo ships, passenger ships, shipping boats and other types of vessels around the UK.

If you want to view the density of Shipping traffic in the rest of the world it is possible to do this using MarineTraffic. The live ship tracking map MarineTraffic includes an option to view a density map of the world's shipping traffic. If you select the 'Density Maps' overlay on MarineTraffic you can view an overlay which shows the accumulated recorded data of all vessels on MarineTraffic over recent years.

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