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Marine Data Buoy Network Upgraded

3rd December 2018
Minister for Agriculture, Food & Marine Michael Creed TD with Marine Institute CEO Peter Heffernan and Evelyn Cusack, Head of Forecasting at Met Eireann at the investment of €700,000 in the Marine Data Buoy Network in 2018. Minister for Agriculture, Food & Marine Michael Creed TD with Marine Institute CEO Peter Heffernan and Evelyn Cusack, Head of Forecasting at Met Eireann at the investment of €700,000 in the Marine Data Buoy Network in 2018. Credit: Darragh Kane

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Minister Creed T.D., has announced an investment of over €0.7m in the Marine Data Buoy Network. The additional funding will provide for both ongoing operations and a significant upgrading of the existing infrastructure.

Speaking from the research vessel RV Celtic Explorer, docked in the Port of Cork, Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Michael Creed TD said, “I am delighted that the Government has been able to provide significantly increased funding for this vitally important element of our weather and oceanographic observation system. With the impacts of climate change ever more apparent the Government recognizes the importance of increased investment in the existing Marine Data Buoy Network system. This increased expenditure will greatly assist our ocean and weather forecasting capabilities in the years ahead as well as supporting vital climate change research and improving safety at sea. Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing nations, Governments and decision makers worldwide. With the incidences of extreme weather conditions increasing, the Government’s investment in the Irish Marine Data Buoy Network is very significant but essential. This ongoing and additional funding will enable the Marine Institute to provide essential national services in ocean observation and weather forecasting programmes that have regional and local impact on our livelihoods, safety and the growing blue economy.”

The Marine Data Buoy Network is managed by the Marine Institute in collaboration with Met Eireann. The Network provides crucial data for weather forecasting, risk management for shipping, the fishing community and coastal towns and villages with advanced warnings as well as oceanography research and data on Ireland’s deep waters. This additional injection of €300,000 brings the total investment to over €700,000 for the network in 2018. This investment will enable the upgrade of the Network with new generation buoy platforms and a suite of sensors, replacing the current technology that has been in use since 2008. Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute, speaking at the launch said; “Investment in the observation buoys and other infrastructures and research capacities will enable Ireland to be at the forefront in providing critical research capacity and overcoming infrastructure gaps that, in the past, have reduced our ability to address questions of national and global importance with respect to climate and ocean change,”.

During hurricane Ophelia in 2017, waves were recorded at a maximum height of 17.8 meters by the M5 weather buoy off the southeast coast. In 2011, the M4 weather buoy, located 75km north of Belmullet on the northwest coast of Ireland, recorded the largest waves recorded in Irish waters, reaching a maximum height of 20.4 meters. The most westerly buoy, M6, located hundreds of kilometres to the west of Ireland, is a sentinel buoy that gathers critical early data reported hourly on weather approaching Ireland and Europe from the Atlantic. The data buoys provide vital information on atmospheric and sea conditions that influence Ireland’s weather such as atmospheric pressure, air and sea temperature, wind speed and direction. This information helps to validate the weather forecasting models run by Met Éireann, that can, in turn, provide guidance to the national emergency planning efforts during the extreme weather events. 

Evelyn Cusack Head of Forecasting from Met Éireann who also attended the launch said; “The data buoys provide vital information about our weather such as atmospheric pressure, air and sea temperature, wind speed and direction. This information is used in the weather forecasting models run by Met Éireann, that provides guidance to the national emergency planning efforts during extreme weather events including storms such as Ophelia and Emma.”

Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Mick Finn highlighted the importance of the weather buoy infrastructures to local communities. Mayor Finn stated “As an island nation, the data provided by the buoys is particularly important for communities, coastal and inland, where impending storms may have serious knock-on impacts on local economies. The investment in this technology serves to both warn in the short term while informing over the long-term forecasts. This will help planning for future-proofed protection and safety measures to reduce damage and losses to businesses and infrastructure,” he said.

Minister Creed also welcomed the significant progress made by the Marine Institute in implementing its Strategic Plan, Building Ocean Knowledge, Delivering Ocean Services (2018-2022). Minister Creed stated “Initiatives by the Institute in enhancing the area of research in forecasting ocean and climate change, places Ireland in a unique position to better understand and contribute to national climate adaptation as well as international climate policy. Increasing Ireland’s scientific research capacity in key areas such as sea level change, ocean circulation, and carbon sequestration, is essential and has been highlighted in the Galway Statement on Atlantic Cooperation; the emerging European Ocean Observing System (EOOS) and the Atlantic Ocean Observing System (AtlantOS). The continued investment in the Marine Data Buoy Network will further contribute to building Ireland’s national capacity in physical oceanography and ocean climate science. The ongoing investment targets capacity building, and delivery of relevant knowledge aimed at better understanding the complex interactions between the ocean and climate change is welcomed”

Published in Marine Science Team

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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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