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Irish Marine Scientist’s Ocean Climate Talk Selected By TED

1st June 2017
Dr Triona McGrath gave her talk on ocean acidification at TEDxFulbrightDublin on 6 February 2016 Dr Triona McGrath gave her talk on ocean acidification at TEDxFulbrightDublin on 6 February 2016 Photo: TED

#MarineScience - A talk on how pollution is changing the chemistry of the seas around Ireland has been selected as a featured video by TED.com.

The talk by Irish marine scientist and Fulbright Scholar Dr Triona McGrath discusses the process of ocean acidification, caused by the absorption of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into the world’s oceans.

A post-doctorate researcher at NUI Galway, Dr McGrath presented her talk on 6 February last year to a local audience at TEDxFulbrightDublin, organised by the Fulbright Commission in Ireland and Fulbright alumnus Dr Lorcan Walsh.

Dr McGrath’s team monitors levels of carbon dioxide in Irish marine waters to determine the level of carbon in the ocean and subsequent increase in ocean acidity.

Along with her colleagues, she published the first rates of ocean acidification for Irish offshore waters and the first baseline dataset of carbon parameters in Irish coastal waters.

This data is crucial for our understanding of the future health of our oceans, and can provide information to determine the impacts of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems.

In her talk, Dr McGrath states: “Ocean acidification is a global threat ... The rate of acidification is ten times faster than any acidification in our oceans for over 55 million years, our marine life has never experienced such a fast rate of change before ... There was a natural acidification event millions of years ago, it was much slower than what we're seeing today, this coincided with the mass extinction of many marine species.”

She also warns: “We will see acidification, we have already put too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere ... but we can slow this down, we can prevent the worst case scenario. The only way of doing that is by reducing our carbon dioxide emissions.”

As a Fulbright Scholar, Dr McGrath visited the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego in 2013 to develop her analytical skills in ocean carbon chemistry.

A researcher in ocean climate change since 2008, her latest research project started in February 2017 and for the next four years she will work with colleagues to further develop ocean acidification research through the continuation of an ongoing time series in the Rockall Trough and the determination of seasonal and inter-annual variability of the carbon system in coastal waters.

Dr McGrath has a PhD in Chemical Oceanography and a BSc in Marine Science from NUI Galway.

Published in Marine Science
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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