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Ophelia: Crunching The Numbers On Galway’s ‘Unusual’ Storm Surge

21st October 2017
Ophelia: Crunching The Numbers On Galway’s ‘Unusual’ Storm Surge

#Ophelia - With most of Ireland battening down the hatches for the second time in a week in preparation for Storm Brian’s arrival, the Marine Institute in Galway says it continues to gather and analyse data from Storm Ophelia.

Despite Galway escaping much of the worst of the wind damage associated with Monday’s storm, a short-lived but notable surge of 1.6m just after 3pm resulted in flooding in a number of well-known locations across the city.

Storm surges occur when strong winds ‘push’ water up against a coastline and low atmospheric pressure associated with a weather system such as Ophelia raise the sea surface further.

Surges in the sea level, measured by the Irish National Tide Gauge Network, were seen around the Irish coast. But the timing of the storm passing over Galway with its associated peak in wind speed coincided with the approach of high tide, resulting in flooding at the Docks, Spanish Arch and Salthill Promenade.

What was unusual was how quickly the surge dissipated, the Marine Institute adds, noting that the predicted high tide occurred just 30 minutes after the peak surge, but the surge itself had dropped by 1.25m to only 35cm in that time.

The unusual nature of the surge can most likely be explained by a rapid change in direction and speed of the wind field in Galway Bay but further investigation is required to understand the event fully.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Irish Marine Weather Buoy Network recorded a record sixty-foot wave off the South East Coast on Monday afternoon before the M5 buoy broke from its moorings.

Among those feeling the effects in the water was Dingle's resident dolphin Fungie, who was found to have a number of serious cuts on his body during the week – though as Buzz.ie reports, he's expected to make a full recovery.

Elsewhere, Michael Viney writes in The Irish Times how Storm Ophelia's advance on Ireland stumped a key resource for Ireland's big wave surfers – one of whom has defended his decision to ride the storm-powered swell off Killiney in Co Dublin to TheJournal.ie.

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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