Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Marine Institute Banner Advert

Ocean off Southwest Ireland to Become Warmer & Less Salty by 2035

5th March 2021
Mussel culture
Mussel culture Credit: Caroline Cusack, Marine Institute

The latest research has shown that the impacts of climate change are already evident in Irish marine waters, with the patterns of harmful algal blooms changing in recent decades. The research, undertaken by the Marine Institute, also indicates that the ocean off southwest Ireland will likely become warmer and less salty by the year 2035.

Naturally occurring blooms of microscopic algae species can sometimes harm ocean health. While most microalgae in the sea are beneficial, some species can produce chemicals that can be passed on via filter-feeding shellfish and occasionally make these shellfish unfit for human consumption. These harmful algal blooms can therefore cause substantial damage to the shellfish industry through prolonged farm closures and loss of produce. Ireland has a national monitoring programme in place to ensure that all Irish shellfish placed on the market are tested and safe for human consumption.

By investigating harmful algal bloom patterns in Irish marine waters over a 20-year period, from 1997 – 2016, Marine Institute scientists discovered that the timing of harmful algal blooms has changed. Two species, Karenia Mikimoto and Dinophysis acuta, show a clear recent increase in their average monthly abundances, peaking later in the year compared to the previous decade. The data from recent years also shows a notable increase in the number of weeks these organisms are present each year.

Dr Caroline Cusack of the Marine Institute said, "By looking at the data on harmful algal blooms over the past two decades, we can see that climate change is already having an impact on our marine environment. Harmful algae usually bloom during the warm summer season or when water temperatures are warmer than usual. As human-induced climate change continues to impact our ocean, we must remain vigilant to the stress and damage this is having on marine ecosystems."

Researchers at the Marine Institute also developed computer models to investigate the regional oceanic climate off the southwest of Ireland. This climate model indicates that under future projected medium and high greenhouse gas emissions, the ocean off southwest Ireland will become warmer and less saline by the year 2035. The results of the ocean climate model are consistent with other European climate models and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate models.

Mick Gillooly, Director of Ocean Climate and Information Services at the Marine Institute said, "Our ocean and climate are inextricably linked. Small changes in the marine ecosystem, such as changing harmful algal bloom patterns, could have a big effect on our shellfish industry, economy and marine environment over the next decades. Adapting to a changing climate is one of the greatest challenges facing society, and scientific knowledge is essential to forecast changes in our oceans, so Ireland can effectively respond to, mitigate and adapt to those changes in our ocean and climate."

This research was carried out by the Marine Institute, as the project coordinator of the CoCliME (Co-development of Climate Services for adaptation to changing Marine Ecosystems) Project, funded by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the European Commission and other European national funders.

CoCliME modelling efforts undertaken by project partners in France, show that existing ocean currents have the potential to bring tropical warm water species such as the microalgae Ostreopsis to the southern shores of Ireland. One potentially harmful Ostreopsis species is now confirmed in coastal regions off southwest France with genetic markers detected off the Brittany coast indicating it can establish in areas further north.

The CoCliME study indicates that the ocean is changing with similar trends to that observed by other European and global predictions in both climate scenarios and altered harmful algal blooms occurrence patterns in the last two decades.

This project is funded under the EPA Research Programme 2014-2020. The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of the Environment,
Climate and Communications. It is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has the statutory function of co-ordinating and promoting environmental research.

Afloat.ie Team

About The Author

Afloat.ie Team

Email The Author

Afloat.ie is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

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)

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating