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Marine Institute’s Irish Ocean Climate and Ecosystem Status Report 2023 in Launched

5th May 2023
The Marine Institute’s Irish Ocean Climate and Ecosystem Status Report 2023
The Marine Institute’s Irish Ocean Climate and Ecosystem Status Report 2023

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue TD officially launched the Marine Institute’s Irish Ocean Climate and Ecosystem Status Report 2023 on Thursday, May 5th.

The 2023 report provides important and timely updates on national observations and recommendations previously presented by the Marine Institute.

The report notes the following key findings;

  • Sea-level rises of between 2-3 mm per annum since the 1990s,
  • A rise of ~0.5C in sea surface temperatures on Ireland’s north coast over the past ten years.
  • Identification of surface water acidification and year-round presence of harmful algal species

Pictured at the launch of the Irish Ocean Climate and Ecosystem Status Report 2023, today in Dublin were, Dr Paul Connolly, CEO Marine Institute, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD. Photo: Jason ClarkePictured at the launch of the Irish Ocean Climate and Ecosystem Status Report 2023, today in Dublin were, Dr Paul Connolly, CEO Marine Institute, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD. Photo: Jason Clarke

Speaking at a special briefing today as part of the launch in Buswells Hotel, Dublin, Minister McConalogue said, “It is critical that both scientists and policy makers are equipped with pertinent and high-quality evidence in relation to the changing state of our seas. This begins with the collection and observation of essential ocean variables from ships, buoys, and robotic platforms in our territorial seas and beyond, measuring ocean temperature, salinity, sea level, ocean carbon, plankton and fish species. This information enables marine scientists to analyse the array of data to gain insights into the nature of some of the changes we are observing. We also need to predict or project what will happen to our oceans in the future using climate models. Based on this evidence, we have set out ambitious climate action targets that include an annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Tackling emissions will help Ireland address rising sea levels, ocean warming and acidification, along with coastal inundation. Ireland’s climate is dominated by the influence of the Atlantic Ocean. As this report outlines and as most of us are already aware, the ocean and the atmosphere are a tightly coupled system, with heat, momentum and mass continuously exchanged between the two. Heat transfer from the ocean to the atmosphere provides one of the main energy sources for atmospheric motion” Minister McConalogue added.

 Irish Ocean Climate and Ecosystem Status Report 2023

Paul Connolly, Chief Executive of the Marine Institute, said “scientific evidence is critical to informing marine climate adaptation in Ireland: Local authorities require evidence to formulate action plans in line with national legislation. Changes in the ocean affect seafood, transport and biodiversity. Excess nutrients primarily from land-based activities, can lead to eutrophication and adversely impact marine life. The oceans provide 50 per cent of the oxygen we breathe. They are a critical element of the global climate system in their role to regulate atmospheric processes and for distributing heat, salt, and organisms. This research shows the impact of climate change is already evident in Irish marine waters with patterns of harmful algal blooms changing. The ocean off the southwest coast will likely become warmer and less salty by the year 2035,” he warns.

The report mainly focuses on Irish waters with findings put into context with wider international climate change efforts such as the International Panel on Climate Change’s 6th assessment report. In thematic layout, it summarises key changes in marine conditions, and examines changing atmospheric conditions (ocean circulation, chemistry, plankton, fisheries and seabirds), and examines the link between freshwater catchments and the ocean. Model predictions and marine infrastructures critical to understanding Ireland’s changing marine climate are also considered.

The report represents a collaboration between marine researchers within the Marine Institute and others based in Ireland’s higher education institutes and public bodies. It includes authors from Met Éireann, Maynooth University, the University of Galway, the Atlantic Technological University, National Parks and Wildlife, Birdwatch Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, Inland Fisheries Ireland, The National Water Forum, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Dundalk Institute of Technology.

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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