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Displaying items by tag: Climate Change

European Commission president Ursula Von Der Leyen will be among the speakers at a high-level summit hosted by the organisers of The Ocean Race Europe next month.

The Ocean Race Summit Europe on Wednesday 16 June aims to help drive new and improved policies to tackle some of the most urgent issues facing our blue planet — from the impact of climate change to the lack of governance and protection for our sea and whether the ocean should be given ‘rights’.

Von Der Leyen and Brussels colleague Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Ocean and Fisheries will virtually join a diverse group of speakers and exclusively invited participants from across the world — comprising leading experts from the worlds of government, science, industry, NGOs, media and sport.

Among them are Mumta Ito, lawyer and Founder of the NGO Nature’s Rights, who will reveal why giving the ocean rights could help to ensure its future, and Tommy E Remengesau, former president of the Republic of Palau, who will discuss leading the way in ocean protection.

Alongside these leading voices will be the unique perspectives of sailors, who have unrivalled experiences of the ocean. Annie Lush from Offshore Team Germany will reveal what life is like on the high seas and how offshore racers are helping scientists understand climate and weather systems.

Other confirmed speakers include:

  • Pascal Lamy, president of the Paris Peace Forum and chair of the EU Mission Starfish 2030, talking on the ambitious mission to revamp ocean governance;
  • Dr Emily Pidgeon, vice president of Ocean Science and Innovation, talking about the importance of including the ocean in the climate conversation;
  • Teresa Ribera, Fourth Deputy Vice President and Minister for Ecological Transition for Spain, on the need to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030;
  • Valerie Cabanes, international law expert and co-founder of End Ecocide on Earth, who will reveal what ecocide means for people and nature; and
  • Manu San Felix, marine biologist from Ibiza Preservation and a specialist in the protection of posidonia (seagrass), who will highlight how the ocean can be a hero in the climate crisis.

The Ocean Race Summit in Newport, Rhode Island gathered over 680 registered participants from around the world | Credit: Ainhoa Sanchez/The Ocean RaceThe Ocean Race Summit in Newport, Rhode Island gathered over 680 registered participants from around the world | Credit: Ainhoa Sanchez/The Ocean Race

Hosted by renowned television presenter and science communicator Danni Washington, the event will also be held virtually — featuring local speakers live from The Ocean Race’s home city of Alicante in Spain with a live link to Brussels.

Richard Brisius, race chairman of The Ocean Race, said: “We have one ocean, but the way it is protected and governed is splintered. When you add to this the impact of climate change, it is a recipe for disaster for our marine world. We urgently need to create a better system, with collaboration at the heart of it.

“Sailors in The Ocean Race have seen more of the ocean, and its decline, than most people on the planet. Our Race is all about teamwork, overcoming challenges and achieving the extraordinary.

“We can apply this through our summits, to help drive change for the ocean. Sport has the power to make a real difference for the planet and we are going to do all we can to make the most of this opportunity.”

The summit will be live-streamed on The Ocean Race: Racing with Purpose YouTube channel and takes place during The Ocean Race Europe, which starts on 29 May in Lorient, France and finishes in Genoa, Italy with a coastal race on 19 June.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

Ireland is represented in an international team of researchers who have identified a possible link between human-caused climate change and a weakening of the Gulf Stream.

And as The Irish Times reports, a continued weakening of the Atlantic Ocean current system could mean more extreme weather for Ireland — and an end to our typically mild climate.

The researchers’ study, published in journal Nature Geoscience, used a variety of sources to plot the history of the flow of the Gulf Stream: the Atlantic Ocean current that pulls warm water from the equator north while pushing colder water south and, via its extension as the North Atlantic Drift, gives Ireland and the UK our mild, wet weather.

Maynooth University’s Dr Levke Caesar, lead author on the study, said the team combined three different types of data — including deep-sea sediment samples dating back many centuries — to reveal “a robust picture of the overturning circulation” in the Atlantic.

It’s this picture that’s a worrying one for climate scientists, as it shows a distinct weakening of the Gulf Stream’s flow since the mid 20th century, and a trend that suggests it could reach a tipping point by the end of this century.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Weather

The 2022-23 edition of The Ocean Race is set to mark a sea change in its commitment to the environment by expanding the gathering of scientific data across the fleet.

On a recent transatlantic crossing by 11th Hour Racing Team — captained by Cork sailor James O’Mahony, with race veteran Damian Foxall as sustainability programme manager — high-quality oceanographic data was relayed ashore in real-time to improve models and predictions on ocean health and climate.

During the August voyage the boat’s crew used an onboard OceanPack — a device which records essential ocean data including surface temperature, salinity and dissolved CO2 — to sample seawater on a continuous basis and transmit the data live, rather than on arrival in port as in the last edition of the race.

The crew aboard the IMOCA 60 racing yacht also deployed a Drifter Buoy on the passage from France to Rhode Island in a target area where there is a gap in buoy coverage, for long-term real-time monitoring of ocean conditions.

“We want to build on the amazing success of our award-winning Sustainability Programme during the 2017-18 edition, which led the way in terms of offshore ocean data collection by a sailing event,” said Anne-Cécile Turner, The Ocean Race’s sustainability director.

“Everything we are doing under our new Racing with Purpose initiative, which has been developed in collaboration with 11th Hour Racing — our founding sustainability partner as well as the premier partner of the race — is aimed at taking that legacy and accelerating action to improve ocean health.”

She added: “The new and pioneering scientific equipment, now 30% lighter and 20% more energy efficient, is yet another example of the innovative record of onboard instrumentation.

“And, paired with the fact that teams on The Ocean Race go deep into some of the most remote areas on the planet like the Southern Ocean, it means that we are again in a unique position to contribute, this time to gather real-time scientific data to help inform decision making.”

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

Scientists led by an Irish team on board the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer (returned yesterday) to the Port of Galway, after 24 days in the Nordic and Greenland Seas to investigate past climate change in the Arctic region.

Scientists involved, reports GalwayBay FM, were from NUI Galway, University of Southampton UK, University of Bremen, Germany, and Bergen University Norway, have been monitoring and capturing a record of temperature, salinity and the carbonate system

Lead scientist, Dr Audrey Morley, School of Geography and Archaeology, NUI Galway says their research is unique, as they are assessing how essential climate variables have evolved since before pre-industrial conditions.

The survey aims to define a more comprehensive description of the Nordic Seas ecosystem and provide insight into how essential climate variables are recorded in geologic archives.

Click here for more on the story and also the survey which examined the past to assist in understanding the future of climate change. 

Published in Marine Science

An Irish-led team of marine scientists on board the RV Celtic Explorer returns to Galway Harbour today (Wednesday 16 September) after more than three weeks investigating historic climate change in the Arctic region.

Scientists from NUI Galway, University of Southampton, University of Bremen and Bergen University had been capturing data in the Nordic and Greenland Seas as part of the CIAAN survey (Constraining the Impact of Arctic Amplification in the Nordic Sea: A biogeochemical approach).

This survey aims to provide new insight into how essential climate variables are recorded in geologic archives.

Assessing the impact and magnitude of past (pre-industrial) climate changes is critical to further our understanding of how the climate system will respond to a rapidly changing Arctic ecosystem, the scientists explain.

‘One of the key challenges in climate change science is assessing the magnitude of future climate change’

Lead scientist Dr Audrey Morley, from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, says: “One of the key challenges in climate change science is assessing the magnitude of future climate change, due to our short observational records which are limited to the past 150 years.

“Our research is unique, as we are not only observing modern essential climate variables, but we will also look into the past to assess how essential climate variables have evolved since before pre-industrial conditions.

“This long-term perspective is crucial and will help us to better understand our environment and the environmental consequences of human activities.”

Dr Morley notes that the Arctic is an especially sensitive and vulnerable environment with regards to contemporary climate change.

“The North Atlantic and Nordic Seas are a key region for the formation of North Atlantic deepwater and the uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Whether or not this region will remain a carbon sink during rapidly warming climates is a question that remains to be answered,” she says.

As part of this research survey, the RV Celtic Explorer travelled to 79 degrees north in the Greenland Sea, which is the highest latitude reached by the marine research vessel.

‘The RV Celtic Explorer is crucial to facilitate this type of international research’

In order to operate in the Arctic region, the RV Celtic Explorer was required to obtain a Polar Code Certification — becoming the first Irish vessel to achieve this status, which greatly increases its ocean research capabilities.

“The RV Celtic Explorer is crucial to facilitate this type of international research,” says Marine Institute chief executive Dr Paul Connolly.

“This research in the Arctic region will deepen our knowledge of the region and will improve models that can forecast changes to our oceans and climate. This will inform effective policy and management decisions to meet the challenges posed by climate change.”

Published in Marine Science

Scientists from GMIT, NUI Galway, UCD, Trinity College, UCC and Queen’s in Belfast are among the signatories to a statement calling for an end to overfishing in European waters “as an urgent and necessary response to the biodiversity and climate crises”.

The message was delivered to EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius this week as part of a statement signed by more than 300 scientists in support of the Our Fish campaign.

These experts urge the EU to set fishing limits within scientific advice and recognise that “ecosystem-based fisheries management is critical to the health of the ocean and its capacity to respond to climate change”.

“Overfishing and bycatch are the largest drivers of biodiversity loss in the ocean”, said Prof Alex Rogers, science director for research initiative REV Ocean. “We need a healthy and productive ocean, and ending overfishing is key.

“This is especially the case when faced with the effects of climate disruption, which affects the whole ocean, including fish stocks themselves.

“As a scientist, I am calling on the EU to recognise that ecosystem-based fisheries management is critical to the health of the ocean and its capacity to respond to climate change. It is also vital for human health, including that of future generations”.

Rebecca Hubbard, programme director of Our Fish, added: “Just like with our own health, if we continue to batter the ocean with overfishing, the whole system will weaken further, until it can no longer provide us with the life-support we need it for — oxygen, climate regulation, food and jobs.

“The EU must stop dragging its feet and take this clear and decisive action now, before it’s too late.”

The statement and its signatories can be read below:

Our Fish statement and signatories

Published in Fishing

Kelp found on the coast of Ireland may have survived some 16,000 years since the last ice age, scientists have discovered — and it could be crucial to understanding how marine plants deal with climate change long-term.

According to AOL News, the team from universities in Scotland, France and Portugal studied the genetic composition of a type of kelp known as oarweed from 14 sites in the North Atlantic and found three distinct clusters — one along North America’s Eastern Seaboard, one off Ireland and Scotland, and another around Brittany.

“As the ice sheets retreated from northern European shorelines at the end of the most recent ice age, oarweed distribution followed and recolonised the higher latitudes of the Atlantic,” said marine ecologist Dr Andrew Watt from Heriot-Watt University.

As a result, the oarweed found in Ireland and Scotland today, many millennia later, is “more closely related to populations in the high Arctic than to the Brittany cluster”.

Despite their unique characteristics, it’s hoped the genetic similarity between the three clusters can help marine science experts learn how plant life can bridge such extremes of climate change.

AOL News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Science
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Surface ocean carbon dioxide observations collected by the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer have been published in the 2020 version of the Surface Ocean Carbon Atlas (SOCAT).

These data provide scientists, climate researchers and international policy makers with essential information on ocean carbon dioxide measurements.

About 36 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide are added to the atmosphere each year as a result of human activities. The ocean absorbs about one-quarter of these emissions, which helps to slow down climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

However, absorbing additional CO2 increases the acidity of seawater. This process is known as ocean acidification, and it could have dramatic consequences for marine life.

The impacts of ocean acidification would extend up the food chain, threatening food security for millions of people

If sea water is too acidic, it can make it difficult for marine organisms such as coral, oysters and mussels to form shells and skeletons.

Ocean acidification may impact some plankton species, which form the base of marine food webs and would impact larger animals like fish and whales.

The impacts of ocean acidification would extend up the food chain, affecting fisheries and aquaculture, threatening food security for millions of people, as well as the tourism industry.

Ocean acidification is a global problem. The European Union has committed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and aims to be climate-neutral — an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions — by 2050.

To understand the Earth’s changing climate, it is essential to collect high-quality data on surface ocean CO2 levels.

Since 2017, the Marine institute has been measuring dissolved carbon dioxide (pCO2) in Irish and Atlantic surface waters using a General Oceanics pCO2 system on board the RV Celtic Explorer. This system enables near-continuous and high-accuracy carbon dioxide measurements in surface water and the atmosphere when the vessel is at sea.

The close collaboration between the Marine Institute and P&O Maritime Services, with support from GEOMAR in Germany, has resulted in the successful collection of this data.

SOCAT has become a milestone in research co-ordination, data access, climate research and in informing policy

The high-quality measurements of CO2 collected by the Marine Institute are now included in the 2020 version of the Surface Ocean Carbon Atlas (SOCAT) and fill “a notable data gap”, according to the Irish State agency for marine research.

The Marine Institute submitted data from nine surveys in 2017 and a further 15 surveys in 2018 to SOCAT, whose data set os used globally by climate researchers and contribute to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

SOCAT has become a milestone in research co-ordination, data access, climate research and in informing policy, the Marine Institute says.

And this work further contributes to collaborative research on ocean carbon and acidification undertaken over the last decade by the institute and NUI Galway.

Margot Cronin, chemist at the Marine Institute, said: “Measuring carbon dioxide in Irish and Atlantic waters provides essential data that increases the understanding of our oceans and climate.

“The Marine Institute is contributing to global science, providing advanced scientific knowledge which will help inform policy and our response to a changing ocean.”

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Marine Institute’s latest Oceans of Learning series focuses on our changing ocean climate with videos, interactive activities and downloadable resources.

Published in Marine Science

How we monitor, analyse and understand the changes in our ocean climate is vital in providing the basis for effective policies to address a range of issues and challenges — such as changing ecosystems, food security, rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

This ocean climate work is the focus of this week’s Oceans of Learning series, with resources from the Marine Institute and Met Éireann, the Irish meteorological service.

“Our ocean is fundamental to life on earth and affects so many facets of our everyday activities,” says Marine Institute chief executive Dr Paul Connolly. “One of the greatest challenges we face as a society is that of our changing climate.

“The strong international collaborations that the Marine Institute has built up over decades facilitates a shared focusing on our changing ocean climate and developing new and enhanced ways of monitoring it and tracking changes over time.

"Our knowledge and services help us to observe these patterns of change and identify the steps to safeguard our marine ecosystems for future generations."

The Marine Institute's annual ocean climate research survey, which has been running since 2004, facilitates long-term monitoring of the deep water environment to the West of Ireland.

This repeat survey, which takes place on board the RV Celtic Explorer, enables scientists to establish baseline oceanic conditions in Irish waters that can be used as a benchmark for future changes.

Scientists collect data on temperature, salinity, water currents, oxygen and carbon dioxide in the Atlantic Ocean. This high quality oceanographic data contributes to the Atlantic Ocean Observing System.

Physical oceanographic data from the survey is submitted to the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and, in addition, the survey contributes to national research such as the VOCAB ocean acidification and biogeochemistry project, the ‘Clean Atlantic’ project on marine litter and the A4 marine climate change project.

During the 2019 survey, the RV Celtic Explorer deployed a replacement M6 weather buoy as part of the Irish Marine Data Buoy Observation Network (IMDBON).

The buoys have instruments which collect weather and ocean data including wind speed and direction, pressure, air and sea surface temperature and wave statistics.

This data provides vital information for weather forecasts, shipping bulletins, gale and swell warnings as well as data for general public information and research.

“It is only in the last 20 years that meteorologists and climatologists have really began to understood the pivotal role the ocean plays in determining our climate and weather,” said Evelyn Cusack, head of forecasting at Met Éireann.

“The real-time information provided by the Irish data buoy network is particularly important for our mariners and rescue services.”

Oceans of Learning offers downloadable resources such as videos, fact sheets and interactive activities on Ireland’s climate monitoring projects. To access the resources for this week’s series, visit A Changing Ocean Climate.

For more information on Oceans of Learning, visit www.marine.ie and follow the Marine Institute on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Published in Marine Science

The Marine Institute has announced a call for proposals for a Senior Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Ocean Ecosystems and Climate for a duration of five years.

This fellowship is designed to provide the link between current climate change research, on international and national scales, with the need to provide operational advice and support to stakeholders.

Proposals are invited from suitable research supervisors at higher education institutions in the Republic of Ireland. Further details including the application procedure are available in the guidelines for applicants.

All applications must be submitted through the Marine Institute’s online grant management system (RIMS). Further details for the fellowship are available in the proposal outline document.

The closing date for this call is 4pm Irish time on Wednesday 1 August. Further enquiries should be addressed to the Research Funding Office at [email protected]

Published in Marine Science
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