#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.