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Displaying items by tag: marine science

A team of 12 marine scientists onboard the brand new UK polar research ship, RRS Sir David Attenborough, set sail on 20 November to Antarctica to study the impact of environmental changes on Antarctic ecosystems and sea ice. The results of their study will help scientists understand how the Southern Ocean is being affected by global warming and its consequences on the animals living there, such as krill, copepods, whales, and penguins.

The team, which includes physicists, ecologists, and biogeochemists, will be investigating how the upper ocean changes in response to the annual melt of sea ice. The research is of utmost importance as polar ecosystems play a pivotal role in regulating cycles of carbon and nutrients, both in the Southern Ocean and across the world via ocean circulation.

During the ten-day mission, the researchers will deploy Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) below vast areas of free-floating sea ice, which play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle. The £9m BIOPOLE project is the first official science cruise of the RRS Sir David Attenborough, and the team will be putting the ship's full capabilities to the test.

First sea ice encountered on the RRS David Attenborough Photo: Rich TurnerFirst sea ice encountered on the RRS David Attenborough Photo: Rich Turner

The BIOPOLE cruise will also include hydrographic surveys and using BONGO and mammoth nets to collect zooplankton. The Controlled Temperature Lab on the ship will be used to investigate the size and growth of copepod lipid sacs, which are a source of food for creatures and a critical part of the carbon cycle.

The team will deploy three autonomous underwater gliders, two of which have autonomous under-ice navigation modules. This will allow the gliders to travel 20-30 km under the ice and collect data over a longer period and wider geographical area. The research will help scientists better understand how the Southern Ocean is being affected by environmental change and could have significant implications for the future of the planet.

The BIOPOLE cruise will also be monitoring the visible, record-breaking low in sea ice extent experienced during the last Southern winter. By gaining improved knowledge of the polar ecosystem, scientists hope to have a better understanding of how to mitigate the effects of environmental change on the planet.

A copepod (an adult female Calanus propinquus) from the water column above the Bellingshausen Sea continental shelf. Photo: BASA copepod (an adult female Calanus propinquus) from the water column above the Bellingshausen Sea continental shelf. Photo: BAS

Published in Marine Science
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Lionfish may be one of the most infamous invasive species in the western North Atlantic, but their spread is only the tip of the iceberg, according to an international research team.

The new study involving Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) scientists has found that only one per cent of known species on Earth have “invaded” around the world.

The Global Ecology and Biogeography journal study suggests an “enormous potential for future waves of biological invasions on land, in freshwater lakes and rivers, and in the ocean”.

“The magnitude of environmental and socioeconomic impacts due to new invasions is likely to rise substantially in the coming decades, particularly as trade and transport accelerate and shift, connecting distant countries and their unique species pools,” the paper says.

Invasive species are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity globally and are the main cause for the extinction of vertebrates in the last century, with an estimated cost of at least $162 billion (USD) a year, the study notes.

The study team found that greater numbers of non-native species tend to come from more diverse species groups.

It notes that some groups have been “excessively introduced, including mammals, birds, fishes, insects, spiders, and plants”.

“Understudied groups – such as microorganisms – are likely vastly underestimated in non-native species inventories,” the authors state.

The study also found that most reporting of biological invasions has occurred on land rather than aquatic habitats.

It says that greater research efforts will likely reveal “substantial numbers of new non-native species and associated impacts in freshwater and ocean habitats”.

Dr Ross Cuthbert, co-author on the study and QUB researcher, said that “biological invasions can cause extinctions, cost trillions of dollars in damage and control, and spread diseases”.

“Their impacts are rising rapidly, making large-scale understandings and predictions of invasion patterns crucial to protect environments, economies, and societies,” he said.

“Management efforts are urgently needed to prevent future introductions and to control the most damaging invaders already established,” he added.

The research is here

Published in Marine Wildlife

Leading ocean conservationists, including marine biologist Dr Sylvia Earle, will participate in a public online broadcast from Rio de Janeiro to mark Darwin Day this Sunday, November 12th 2023.

Philippe Cousteau, founder of EarthEcho International and grandson of Jacques Cousteau, will speak about protecting marine ecosystems and activating youth, while Dr Sarah Darwin will reflect on the changes to the planet since her great-great-grandfather Charles Darwin voyaged around the world.

The initiative is part of DARWIN200, a pioneering two-year global voyage (2023-2025) of 40,000 nautical miles aboard the historic tall ship Oosterschelde.

It aims to “train and empower 200 determined young conservation leaders and inspire solutions to the planet’s biggest environmental challenges”.

The ship is visiting 32 ports along the two-year journey, and will be in Rio de Janeiro until November 12th for a week of youth conservation leadership programmes and public events.

The full day of live and interactive talks, called Darwin Day, will be broadcast from the Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado (Golden Lion Tamarin centre), with free online viewing.

Speakers will include retired NASA astronaut Col Terry W Virts will provide his perspective on seeing planet Earth from his travels aboard the space shuttle and the International Space Station.

World-renowned ethologist and conservationist Dr Jane Goodall will share her reasons for hope, while marine biologist Dr Sylvia Earle will offer her perspective on making a better future for nature.

DARWIN200 project leader Stewart McPherson will present a summary of a week-long effort to plant trees in the Atlantic rainforest.

Acclaimed National Geographic photographer and Nikon Ambassador Ami Vitale will talk about observing and photographing species on the brink of extinction, and what we can do to save critically endangered wildlife.

Project Tamar’s Nina dei Marcovaldi will give an overview of sea turtle conservation in Brazil, and deliver “an inspiring message of the possibility of inter-generational change”.

Explorer Paul Rose and the National Geographic Pristine Seas Team will join from their team’s expedition vessel in the Federated State of Micronesia to discuss protecting the remaining pristine ocean.

The event can be watched live on YouTube on Sunday here

More information here

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Riverside planting, recreating natural channels and reconnecting groundwater links could help offset high thermal extremes caused by climate change in rivers, a new study recommends.

The study led by the University of Birmingham, along with the University of Nottingham and the Scottish Government’s Marine Directorate, highlights that intense shortwave radiation during hot and dry periods is likely to be the biggest factor in high river water temperatures.

This factor, combined with declining water levels and volumes, and slower flow velocities during droughts, will warm up rivers more quickly, it says.

However, cooling effects from groundwater inputs, channel shading and evaporation can offset high temperatures in certain circumstances, the study published in the scientific journal Hydrological Processes says.

The scientists have identified three primary mechanisms that drive river water temperature increases during droughts.

These are: atmospheric energy inputs; physical habitat influences (shading and river channel shapes controlling flow); and the contributions of different water sources – groundwater tends to cool rivers in summer.

“Rising river water temperatures can have significant and often detrimental implications for aquatic life, impacting both individual species and entire ecosystems,” the study’s co-author, David Hannah, professor of hydrology and UNESCO chair in water sciences at the University of Birmingham, said.

“Drought conditions often coincide with high atmospheric temperatures, and such trends will become more intense and frequent with climate change - with major implications for river water temperatures due to the combination of intense solar radiation and lower (and slower) water flows,” he said.

“However, certain management interventions such as riverside planting and river restoration initiatives – including recreating natural channel forms and reconnecting groundwaters – could help to offset high thermal extremes during droughts if interventions are well targeted,” he said.

Lead author Dr James White, from the University of Birmingham, said the work “ highlights critical future research questions that will help us to better model river water temperature dynamics during droughts – helping river managers to work out how thermal extremes could be better managed through mitigation and adaptation strategies”.

The research was supported by the British Environment Agency, and the paper is here

Published in Marine Science
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The Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA) has initiated a study with the Marine Institute on whether certain marine environmental surveys require a licence.

The study will focus on marine environmental surveys “for the purposes of scientific discovery and research”, and marine environmental surveys “for the purposes of site investigation or in support of an application for planning for major developments”.

The new State regulatory authority for marine planning, says that “the output of this study, expected Q1 2024, will inform MARA if changes in the licence regime are warranted”.

“If so, MARA will engage with the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to prioritise drafting legislative amendments to exempt some ‘low risk’ activities that are marine licensable,” it says.

The Marine Institute said it “is engaging with internal and external marine experts to help identify and propose activities that may be suitable for exemption”.

“This will be carried out by assessing marine data collection processes, publicly available data and survey techniques used in other mature markets”, it says.

“A comprehensive catalogue of the types of activities will be reviewed. The approaches adopted in other jurisdictions will also inform the process,” it says.

MARA chief executive officer Laura Brien said “the range of activities which require a marine licence is wide ranging from large complex works to smaller, low-risk works”.

“This is an important project which could result in an innovative approach to our licensing regime and ensure applications are treated in a proportionate way,” she said.

“The outcome of this work will be of interest to a number of our stakeholders, including industry, in particular those dealing with Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) and other maritime developments,” she said.

More information is available from Mara’s marine licensing team at email address [email protected]

Published in Marine Planning

Dr Colm Lordan, an Irish marine scientist with over 25 years of experience at the Marine Institute and involvement with the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) since 1993, has been appointed as the new Chair of the Advisory Committee (ACOM) at the 111th ICES Council meeting.

The ACOM provides independent scientific advice on the sustainable management of marine resources and ecosystems in the North Atlantic Ocean to a range of requestors, including the European Union, the UK, Iceland, and Norway. Dr. Lordan's appointment as the Integrated Advice Manager in the Fisheries Ecosystem Advisory Services (FEAS) section comes at a pivotal time of accelerating the pace of change and increasing anthropogenic pressures on marine ecosystems.

As the new head of ACOM, Dr. Lordan will lead the foremost marine science advisors from the ICES 20 member countries to generate state-of-the-art evidence-based advice to meet conservation, management, and sustainability goals. "I very much look forward to working with, and leading, ACOM," he stated.

Dr. Ciaran Kelly, Director of Fisheries Ecosystem Advisory Services at the Marine Institute, congratulated Dr. Lordan on his appointment and highlighted the Marine Institute's leadership and standing in the international marine science field. In fact, Dr. Lordan is the third secondment of a Marine Institute scientist to a position of international scientific importance.

Dr. Lordan will begin his three-year term on December 1, 2023.

Published in Marine Science
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The 10th International Conference of the European Global Ocean Observing System (EuroGOOS) is currently taking place in Galway, Ireland from October 3rd to 5th, 2023. This event is attended by a diverse group of ocean science professionals from policymakers to technology developers, forecasters and users. The conference has been officially endorsed by the UN Decade of Ocean Science as an official Ocean Decade Activity.

The conference focuses on a range of themes, including marine knowledge value chain, ocean data and forecasting services, EU priorities such as the Digital Ocean Twin, and the science behind Europe’s oceanographic capacity. The primary goal of the conference is to enhance global ocean observations, providing the vital data needed for improved forecasts and early warning systems to protect people and the planet.

Michael Gillooly, Interim CEO of the Marine Institute, welcomed the delegates, emphasising the importance of the conference for EuroGOOS. The conference comes at a pivotal time when experts are working towards protecting the health of the shared ocean by coordinating programmes in areas such as ocean observations.

Dr. Colm Lordan, Fisheries Ecosystem Advisory Services, Marine Institute, delivered a keynote address at the event discussing the data, science, and evidence needed to inform the development of offshore renewable energy. Dr. Lordan highlighted the importance of the transition to secure offshore renewable energy, ensuring it delivers net gains for sustainable seafood production while protecting and restoring marine ecosystems.

Ireland, through the Marine Institute, has been a member of EuroGOOS since 2005 and has supported EuroGOOS throughout its transition to becoming a legal entity in 2012.

Published in Marine Science
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Researchers on technology for the rapid diagnosis of fish disease on aquaculture sites have been awarded Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funding.

A team led by Dr Niall Maloney of the Atlantic Technological University (ATU) and Prof Enda McGlynn of Dublin City University (DCU) is working with Catherine McManus of Mowi Ireland on the project.

“Current methods for the diagnosis of pathogens in aquaculture are time-consuming and are carried out in laboratories that are sometimes far from farm sites,” Dr Maloney says.

“ By developing technology for use directly at the farm site, we can reduce sample to answer times and ensure more timely and appropriate disease management practices can be implemented,” he says.

The team says it will develop a test that works in a similar fashion to the COVID-19 tests that were used in homes and workplaces throughout the pandemic, but with some modifications.

Oxide nanostructures, which are thin and narrow will be grown on the paper used in these tests in Prof McGlynn’s laboratory.

“By increasing the surface to volume ratio of the test line using these structures it is hoped that assay performance can be improved by providing a larger area for the capture of pathogens,” they state.

“ A portable thermal reader will also be developed to scan the assay test lines to determine the number of infectious agents present,” they explain.

The support by SFI is drawn from the National Challenge Fund announced recently by Higher Education Minister Simon Harris.

The National Challenge Fund is a €65 million programme established under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and funded by the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility,

“An important part of Challenge-based funding is engagement with stakeholders and potential beneficiaries to ensure we are making informed decisions on the future direction of this project,” Dr Maloney says.

“This type of engagement will ensure that we focus our efforts on the real-world challenges faced when trying to diagnose infectious disease in aquaculture and ensure we can achieve maximum impact,” he says.

Published in Aquaculture

The state of marine food webs is changing, according to the OSPAR quality status report for the northeast Atlantic.

The report, published this week, highlights how a loss of marine biodiversity, pollution and climate change continue to affect the North-East Atlantic.

Among a myriad of findings, the report concludes that climate change and ocean acidification, which is caused by the sea’s increased uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and which impacts the ability of organisms to form shells and skeletons, are important drivers of change in the north-east Atlantic, in turn threatening marine biodiversity.

It also presents further evidence that marine food webs are changing. Improvements in relation to human activities have, however, been recorded in a number of areas, such as the prevention of pollution by radioactive substances and a reduction in negative impacts from oil and gas activities.

Minister for Heritage Malcolm Noonan said that “as living witnesses to a changing Atlantic, it’s crucial that we regularly and rigorously gather the science and present the evidence that tells us how our marine environment is doing, and that we do that in concert with our neighbours in the UK, mainland Europe and our Nordic and Icelandic partners”.

“OSPAR and the QSR 2023 [quality status report] provide that platform, to work together for our shared marine environment and to point out where decisive action is needed to protect it and restore it,” he said.

“For Ireland, the QSR 2023 assessments indicate how the comparatively lower level of urbanisation and industrial activity around our coasts and in our seas has so far afforded us a relatively clean, healthy, diverse and productive marine environment,” Noonan said.

“ However, it’s clear that the identified wider and growing challenges posed by climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, including marine litter, and the ongoing poor status of many marine species and habitats demonstrate a clear need for further coordinated action by OSPAR Contracting Parties.

The Marine Institute and Environmental Protection Agency also commented on the report and how it is helping Ireland to better understand the quality of the marine environment around Ireland.

Ireland is one of 16 parties to the OSPAR Convention, and the report sets out the evidence to inform important international and national decisions on how to improve this vital environment.

The QSR 2023 results from the combined efforts of over 400 experts, scientists, data analysts and policy colleagues, supported by contributions from OSPAR observers coming from industry, environmental non-governmental organisations and international partner organisations.

Published in Marine Science

Tara is a 36-metre French-registered marine research schooner which has an “excellent chef” on board, according to chief scientist Emmanuel Boss.

It has been commissioned by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) for the Traversing European Coastlines (TREC) project, which has been in Galway as part of its work taking a snapshot of Europe’s land and sea coastal rim.

The schooner, which is based in Lorient, France, is ice-strengthened to work in - and cope with being ice-locked in - the Arctic.

It is financed through a mixture of private and public funds, with French designer Agnes B as one of the main sponsors.

However, it is a bit different to normal research vessels; everyone on board “gets to clean the toilets”, Boss says.

“It doesn’t matter if you are chief scientist or captain of the boat – everyone has to do their chores as part of a roster,” he said.

“This makes for “far better relations” and no hierarchy, Boss said – “the relationship between crew and scientists is tighter than on any other boat I have been on,”he said.

Tara, the 36-metre French-registered marine research schooner docked in GalwayTara, the 36-metre French-registered marine research schooner docked in Galway

Over 150 research teams from over 70 institutions in 29 European countries are involved in the TREC project, which is being co-ordinated by the EMBL, working with local partners such as the Marine Institute in Galway.

(Above and below) The Traversing European Coastlines (TREC) projec has been in Galway as part of its work taking a snapshot of Europe’s land and sea coastal rim(Above and below) The Traversing European Coastlines (TREC) projec has been in Galway as part of its work taking a snapshot of Europe’s land and sea coastal rim

In an interview for Wavelengths – also on RTÉ Countrywide – Boss, the professor explained how the TREC project works and how Tara is equipped.

More information on the TREC project and EMBL is here

Published in Wavelength Podcast
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Marine Institute Research Vessel Tom Crean

Ireland’s new marine research vessel will be named the RV Tom Crean after the renowned County Kerry seaman and explorer who undertook three major groundbreaking expeditions to the Antarctic in the early years of the 20th Century which sought to increase scientific knowledge and to explore unreached areas of the world, at that time.

Ireland's new multi-purpose marine research vessel RV Tom Crean, was delivered in July 2022 and will be used by the Marine Institute and other State agencies and universities to undertake fisheries research, oceanographic and environmental research, seabed mapping surveys; as well as maintaining and deploying weather buoys, observational infrastructure and Remotely Operated Vehicles.

The RV Tom Crean will also enable the Marine Institute to continue to lead and support high-quality scientific surveys that contribute to Ireland's position as a leader in marine science. The research vessel is a modern, multipurpose, silent vessel (designed to meet the stringent criteria of the ICES 209 noise standard for fisheries research), capable of operating in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Tom Crean is able to go to sea for at least 21 days at a time and is designed to operate in harsh sea conditions.

RV Tom Crean Specification Overview

  • Length Overall: 52.8 m
  • Beam 14m
  • Draft 5.2M 

Power

  • Main Propulsion Motor 2000 kw
  • Bow Thruster 780 kw
  • Tunnel thruster 400 kw

Other

  • Endurance  21 Days
  • Range of 8,000 nautical miles
  • DP1 Dynamic Positioning
  • Capacity for 3 x 20ft Containers

Irish Marine Research activities

The new state-of-the-art multi-purpose marine research vessel will carry out a wide range of marine research activities, including vital fisheries, climate change-related research, seabed mapping and oceanography.

The new 52.8-metre modern research vessel, which will replace the 31-metre RV Celtic Voyager, has been commissioned with funding provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine approved by the Government of Ireland.

According to Aodhán FitzGerald, Research Vessel Manager of the MI, the RV Tom Crean will feature an articulated boom crane aft (6t@ 10m, 3T@ 15m), located on the aft-gantry. This will be largely used for loading science equipment and net and equipment handling offshore.

Mounted at the stern is a 10T A-frame aft which can articulate through 170 degrees which are for deploying and recovering large science equipment such as a remotely operated vehicle (ROV’s), towed sleds and for fishing operations.

In addition the fitting of an 8 Ton starboard side T Frame for deploying grabs and corers to 4000m which is the same depth applicable to when the vessel is heaving but is compensated by a CTD system consisting of a winch and frame during such operations.

The vessel will have the regulation MOB boat on a dedicated davit and the facility to carry a 6.5m Rigid Inflatable tender on the port side.

Also at the aft deck is where the 'Holland 1' Work class ROV and the University of Limericks 'Etain' sub-Atlantic ROV will be positioned. In addition up to 3 x 20’ (TEU) containers can be carried.

The newbuild has been engineered to endure increasing harsher conditions and the punishing weather systems encountered in the North-East Atlantic where deployments of RV Tom Crean on surveys spent up to 21 days duration.

In addition, RV Tom Crean will be able to operate in an ultra silent-mode, which is crucial to meet the stringent criteria of the ICES 209 noise standard for fisheries research purposes.

The classification of the newbuild as been appointed to Lloyds and below is a list of the main capabilities and duties to be tasked by RV Tom Crean:

  • Oceanographic surveys, incl. CTD water sampling
  • Fishery research operations
  • Acoustic research operations
  • Environmental research and sampling operation incl. coring
  • ROV and AUV/ASV Surveys
  • Buoy/Mooring operations