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Displaying items by tag: Climate Change

The Ocean Race is providing “critical” data to international scientists studying the impact of climate change and plastic pollution on ocean health.

Following the 2022-23 edition of the round-the-world race — when all five IMOCA racing boats gathered over 4.3-million data points — The Ocean Race has continued this important marine science work, extending the initiative to two polar expeditions: one in the deep southern waters and another in the high northern latitudes.

Earlier this year, The Ocean Race set up The Ocean Race Science Instruments on an Antarctic expedition sailing vessel that ventured from the Falkland Islands deep into the icy waters around Antarctica.

The Ocean Race installed the equipment, trained the crew on its operation and is managing the logistics for the data and sample collection and delivery to scientific organisations.

This expedition reached a part of the ocean that has been under-sampled due to its remote location and the relatively small number of vessels who travel these waters.

In this case, the sailing vessel was able to collect samples south of 73 degrees south latitude, near Smyley Island, where the seawater temperature is actually just below 0C.

The Ocean Race Science Instruments used in the Antarctica expedition gathered information on marine microplastics, ocean carbon dioxide and oxygen levels, seawater temperature and salinity.

Much of the data collection took place through breaks and gaps in the sea ice off the Antarctic peninsula, and is likely the first time this area has been sampled.

The samples are now en route to Europe where the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in England will begin analysis. The carbon dioxide samples will be analysed by The GEOMAR - Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, among others.

The OceanPack is one of the instruments that will gather a range of data about ocean health in Antarctica | Credit: Stefan Raimund/The Ocean RaceThe OceanPack is one of the instruments that will gather a range of data about ocean health in Antarctica | Credit: Stefan Raimund/The Ocean Race

“This mission to Antarctica was a successful pilot mission to take The Ocean Race Science Instruments and utilise them on unique non-race boats, to gather information from the edges of the world to share with the scientific community,” said The Ocean Race chairman Richard Brisius. “It would not have been possible without the commitment and co-operation with some of the world's most experienced polar sailors, to whom we are very grateful.

“The Southern Ocean around Antarctica is not just the heart and soul of our race, but as we are learning from leading scientists, it is a critical driver of climate, and one of the world’s bulwarks against the impacts of climate change. But due to its remoteness, the waters around Antarctica and especially under the ice pack near the continent, are rarely sampled or researched.”

The Ocean Race Science Instruments will now be installed on an Arctic exploration sailing vessel making a summer transit of the Northwest Passage, departing from Bergen, Norway in June for a three-month expedition, led by accomplished polar explorer Keith Tuffley, with scientific counsel from ohan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and two oceanography students from the University of Bergen leading the crew. A film team from Brazil specialising in adventure film-making will document the journey.

The inclusion of The Ocean Race Science Instruments on board will allow for some of the first testing for microplastics in the region. Samples and data will be collected and shared with international ocean science organisations like the National Oceanography Centre for analysis.

“These expeditions are an opportunity to build on what we do during The Ocean Race and provide rare data to the scientific community,” Brisius said. “We look forward to seeing how the samples and data that are collected contribute to our global understanding of these sensitive but important environments.”

As The Ocean Race builds its science programme on the water, it will continue to collaborate with leading international organisations to advocate on ocean health.

As part of the IOC UNESCO Ocean Decade Week in Barcelona this month, The Ocean Race will co-organise with IOC UNESCO a session titled ‘Sailing into the Future for the Ocean Decade’ on Tuesday 9 April.

The event will gather thought leaders and change makers from the worlds of science, research, policy and sailing, including IMOCA skippers and veterans of The Ocean Race, Boris Herrmann (Team Malizia) and Rosalin Kuiper (Team Holcim PRB) and feature hosted panels titled ‘Offshore Racing and Science’ and ‘Understand Our Ocean’.

The Ocean Race says it is committed to the race for the ocean and the science programme is an important initiative driving meaningful change towards the restoration of ocean health.

Published in Ocean Race

Heat extremes in Ireland will become more frequent and severe, and technological advancements will only deliver short-term benefits if steps towards “transformative change” are not taken, a new report published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns.

Ireland’s Climate Change Assessment (ICCA) report is the culmination of over two years of work that examines, over four volumes, how Ireland’s climate is changing.

Described as a “state of the art assessment”, it also examines how the island can be decarbonised, how climate change can be prepared for, and examines the benefits in transitioning to a low carbon society.

Researchers from Trinity College Dublin’s (TCD) Schools of Natural Sciences and Engineering worked on two volumes of the report and a summary document for policymakers.

The study notes that in line with global trends, 16 of the 20 warmest years in Ireland have occurred since 1990.

It says that having peaked in 2001, Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions have reduced in all sectors except agriculture.

However, Ireland currently emits more greenhouse gases per person than the EU average.

It says that more action is needed to meet Ireland's legally binding emissions targets, including large-scale and immediate emissions reductions across the energy system, which is currently heavily dependent (86%) on fossil fuels.

It says that “immediate and sustained transformative mitigation and adaptation actions” are “likely to yield substantial benefits for health, wellbeing and biodiversity in Ireland while reducing vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change”.

The full report is available here

Published in Weather

The Marine Institute has held an “Energy Awareness Day” to mark the launch of its Climate Action Roadmap.

This is part of the institute’s five-year strategy — Ocean Knowledge that Informs and Inspires — which sets a new vision and mission for the Marine Institute and identifies eight strategic priorities for the period 2023-2027.

Sustainability and climate is to the core of the strategy, it says, which gives priority to the delivery of the Climate Action Roadmap.

The Marine Institute boasts that combined efforts of staff have resulted in a 41% energy reduction in its Galway headquarters since 2015, improvements in waste management and energy management measures across its fleet of research vessels, including the RV Celtic Explorer and RV Tom Crean — the latter of which replaces the RV Celtic Voyager, now en route to its new home in northern Canada.

Other efforts include becoming a supporter of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, promotion of energy and sustainability awareness, and the commencement of My Green Lab certification in 2022.

Patricia Orme is director of corporate services at the Marine Institute and also serves as its ‘Climate and Sustainability Champion’ and energy performance officer.

She said: “The improvements already achieved are immense and are the result of the combined efforts of Colleagues across the Marine Institute. I look forward to seeing continual progress as we work through the projects detailed in the Climate Action Roadmap.”

A number of activities also took place during the Energy Awareness Day to recognise the energy savings achieved by the Marine Institute and how staff can continue to ‘get greener’ at work and home.

Staff participated in demonstrations of sustainable practices from Optimising Power@Work, household WEEE (Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment) collection, wildflower seed giveaways and tours of the recently upgraded boilers in the plant room.

Published in Environment

The public consultation has now commenced for the Loughs Agency’s draft Climate Action Plan, which outlines how the organisation aims to reduce its carbon emissions in the coming years.

Responses are welcome for the next 12 weeks, with the consultation period closing on 31 January 2024.

The draft Climate Action Plan aims to reflect the leadership role the organisation wishes to take while supporting a modal shift away from high-carbon energy and implementing climate-resilient solutions for both the Foyle and Carlingford catchment areas.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Loughs Agency is holding two information sessions this week with staff present at both sessions to answer questions on the draft plan while also assisting with the feedback process.

Alternatively, those interested in having their say on these strategy documents can do so in their own time by reading the draft plan and completing the online survey.

Published in Loughs Agency

A public consultation will soon commence on the Loughs Agency’s draft Climate Action Plan, which outlines how the organisation aims to reduce its carbon emissions in the coming years.

The consultation, which will run for 12 weeks from Wednesday 8 November, will provide members of the public with the opportunity to share their thoughts on the Loughs Agency’s plans to combat climate change.

A draft version of the Climate Action Plan has been developed, reflecting the leadership role the organisation wishes to take while supporting a modal shift away from high-carbon energy and implementing climate-resilient solutions for both the Foyle and Carlingford catchment areas.

The headline commitment from the draft Climate Action Plan is the Loughs Agency’s ‘Climate Ambition’, defined as follows: “To reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 51% by 2030 and to be a net zero carbon and climate-resilient Agency by 2050.”

These targets will help the organisation align with the ambitions of strategic stakeholders and respective government departments.

In addition, the plan will help ensure that Loughs Agency remains at the forefront of developing and leading in the field of climate adaptation and mitigation, further enhancing its mission in protecting the natural environment and the species within Foyle and Carlingford.

The Loughs Agency will be holding two information sessions in November, with staff present at both sessions to answer questions on the draft plan while also assisting with the feedback process:

  • Loughs Agency HQ, Prehen, Wednesday 8 November from 5pm-8pm
  • The Foy Centre, Dundalk St, Carlingford, Thursday 9 November from 5pm-8pm

Alternatively, those interested in having their say on these strategy documents can do so in their own time by reading the draft plan and completing the survey, which will be available on the Consultations section of the Loughs Agency website from Wednesday 8 November.

Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon said: “Climate change is now an immediate reality, and the work of Loughs Agency has never been more relevant in protecting the aquatic environment in our catchments.

:The impacts of climate change are already being felt on the aquatic ecosystems that we protect, conserve, and develop. We are acutely aware of the delicate ecological balance within these aquatic habitats and how this balance relates to wider ecosystems and to the wider communities who live within these areas.

“While the agency has statutory obligations and targets regarding climate action in both jurisdictions, a planned response to climate change is at the heart of what we do. In our remit to conserve and protect the catchments under our care, we develop nature-based solutions to the challenges of climate change and implement these solutions through adaptation and mitigation strategies.

“Thus Loughs Agency, as an environmental organisation, has an opportunity to show leadership in this area and be an exemplar of best practice in response to climate change.”

Published in Loughs Agency

Music for Galway’s Cellissimo Festival and Galway Atlantaquaria have teamed up for an ambitious project to spark community exploration of the local impacts of climate change on our seas and marine biodiversity — and inspire action to address the climate emergency.

Galway Bay Is Calling will bring together marine conservationists, behavioural scientists and scores of professional and community musicians, singers and performers from across Galway city and county in a unique creative collaboration that will pose individual and collective responses to the climate emergency through music and performance.

Music for Galway, the classical music resource organisation, and Galway Atlantaquaria, Ireland’s largest native-species aquarium, have secured investment through the Creative Ireland Climate Action Spark Fund to develop the project.

“Galway Bay Is Calling fits right into a central theme of Cellissimo, our international cello festival which takes place for the second time across Galway city and county from 18-25 May next year,” says Music for Galway chief executive Anna Lardi.

“As well as producing an exciting, accessible international music festival, we are approaching Cellissimo as a vehicle to creatively highlight the impacts of climate change, with a particular focus on the plight of climate migrants.”

Dr Maria Vittoria Marra, education and public engagement officer at Galway Atlantaquaria added: “We are delighted to have this opportunity to work with Music for Galway and ATU (Atlantic Technological University) on this social art project which aims at harnessing the power of music and performance to increase the ocean literacy of local musicians, not only with a view to strengthen their awareness of our impacts upon the ocean and its impact upon us, but also to provide them with tools and approaches to transform ocean knowledge into behaviours and action that promote ocean sustainability.”

Galway Bay Is Calling promises an exciting interactive series of ocean literacy workshops where participants will explore Galway’s coastline and marine life through beach combing and rock pooling, attending workshops and contributing to discussion and debate on climate change.

The group will work with scientists and researchers at ATU in Galway city to understand people’s behaviours and the key approaches that can influence attitude and ignite community transformation.

The Galway Bay Is Calling collective will then collaborate in groups with renowned Florence-based Irish cellist, singer and composer Naomi Berrill to articulate their experiences of the workshop and research work, exploring ideas for community responses.

Berrill will take these inputs and write a new composition for the collective, who will rehearse their parts independently before coming together in Galway a week before Music for Galway’s Cellissimo Festival in May 2024 to rehearse collectively.

The world premiere of Galway Bay Is Calling, a new composition for solo cello and a mixed-bag orchestra, will be presented at the opening day of Cellissimo in Galway on Saturday 18 May 2024.

The progress of Galway Bay Is Calling will be documented and shared over the coming months on participants’ social media channels. Details of Cellissimo will be announced later this year.

Published in Galway Harbour

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has welcomed the adoption by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of a revised 2023 strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships.

Significantly, this includes a provision for an economic element on the basis of a maritime GHG emission pricing mechanism.

The 2023 GHG Strategy was adopted at the 80th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee in London. Ireland has been supportive of the highest level of ambition throughout the negotiation of this strategy.

The revised strategy sets a goal of net zero GHG emissions from ships by or around 2050. This is a significant increase in ambition compared to the initial 2018 strategy which targeted a 50% reduction compared to 2008 levels.

The strategy has introduced important indicative checkpoints along this 2050 pathway. The 2030 checkpoint is set at reducing GHG emissions from ships by at least 20%, while striving for 30%. For 2040, this stands at 70% while striving for 80%. Both checkpoints are in comparison to 2008 levels.

In an important move, the strategy includes a basket of candidate mid-term GHG reduction measures including an economic element on the basis of a maritime GHG emissions pricing. This is something that Minister Ryan and Ireland have been advocating for a number of years, the Department of Transport says.

Commenting after the IMO’s revised strategy announcement on Friday (7 July), Minister Ryan said: “At last year’s COP27 in Egypt the key issue was climate finance and agreement on a loss and damage fund to help the poorest countries, states and people in the world, who are being disproportionately impacted by the devastation of climate change.

“At COP, global leaders like Mary Robinson were advocating for a pricing mechanism or levy on carbon heavy industries, like the maritime and aviation sectors. It is really encouraging to see that this globally agreed strategy, which will accelerate the sector’s transition away from polluting fossil fuels, now also, significantly and bravely, provides for a pricing mechanism. The key thing now is to go to the next steps, turning this agreed strategy into action.”

The strategy also includes provision for a new target of at least 5%, striving for 10% uptake of zero or near-zero GHG emission technologies, fuels and/or energy sources by 2030.

There was further agreement on the timeline for introducing mid-term measures, which will be crucial for the implementation of this strategy.

Much work remains in the process, with the agreement to initiate a comprehensive impact assessment of the remaining candidate measures. This timeline will see measures adopted by 2025 and enter into force by 2027, while giving appropriate consideration to assess possible impacts on states.

While Ireland and others had called for higher levels of ambition during the negotiation process, the department says it was important to secure widespread support to reach such an agreement that can now be implemented globally.

This resulting 2023 strategy marks an important milestone along the maritime fuel transition, it adds, and it is hoped that it will send a clear signal to the maritime and fuel industries on the commitment to phase out GHG emissions from shipping.

The adoption by unanimous support from member states of the IMO is also important in ensuring a high level of solidarity in delivering on the ambition of net zero by 2050, it says.

Published in Ports & Shipping

Surface ocean carbon dioxide observations from Irish waters collected by the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer have been published in the 2023 version of the Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas (SOCAT).

With over 42 million surface ocean CO2 measurements from across the globe, SOCAT is a key dataset for quantifying the evolving ocean uptake and sink for CO2.

This data provides scientists, climate researchers and international policy makers with essential information on ocean carbon dioxide measurements. And such observations are essential to understand current and project future climate change as well as for monitoring changes in ocean chemistry and predicting the impacts of these changes.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations continue to rise rapidly and currently are at about 420 parts per million (ppm), up from 280ppm in preindustrial times.

The current atmospheric level would be significantly higher, and climate change even more pronounced, but for our global ocean absorbing about a quarter of CO2 emissions from human activities each year.

There is, however, a cost: Absorbing additional CO2 increases the acidity of seawater. This process is known as ocean acidification, and it may have dramatic consequences for marine life, as detailed in a recent assessment by OSPAR.

If sea water is too acidic, it can make it difficult for marine organisms such as coral, oysters and mussels to form shells and skeletons. The impacts of ocean acidification and warming could also extend up the food chain, affecting fisheries and aquaculture, threatening food security for millions of people.

Evin McGovern at the Marine Institute, who was co-convenor of the international expert group that produced the OSPAR Ocean Acidification assessment said: “High-quality measurements of surface ocean carbon dioxide are needed for a better understanding of the impact of ocean-atmosphere interactions on climate. The Marine Institute is contributing to global science, providing advanced scientific knowledge which will help inform policy and our response to a changing ocean.”

Ocean and atmospheric CO2 measurements have been collected on the RV Celtic Explorer since 2017. This year Ireland joined the Integrated Carbon Observing Station (ICOS), a European Infrastructure network supporting standardised high-precision carbon flux measurements between atmosphere, land and the ocean, and the RV Celtic Explorer was adopted as an ICOS Ocean “station”.

In Ireland, marine CO2 measurements are also collected at fixed stations and additional CO2 observing capacity will be available on the new national research vessel, the RV Tom Crean, extending the coverage.

Published in Marine Science

Dublin Port Company is recruiting for the role of energy and decarbonisation lead.

The State-owned commercial port says it “aims to play a strong role in achieving its own energy and decarbonisation goals, as well as supporting and influencing wider Dublin Port stakeholders in meeting their own energy reduction and decarbonisation ambitions”.

Dublin Port has 15,000 annual vessel movements, handles almost half of the Republic of Ireland’s trade, is the largest freight and passenger port in Ireland and is one of five major ports classified as Tier 1/Tier 2 ports in the National Ports Policy.

The energy and decarbonisation lead will head the development, implementation and delivery of plans to ensure that Dublin Port Company meets its energy and decarbonisation goals and commitments.

As the company provides critical national port infrastructure, the role will require a close working relationship with its stakeholders to ensure it understands their decarbonisation needs, in order to best support them in meeting their energy and decarbonisation goals.

The role will require leading the energy and decarbonisation team, especially working closely with the port’s technical manager, property and facilities manager and assistant harbour master, who are all key members of that team.

Key responsibilities also include work within energy and decarbonisation management, the NewERA Climate Action Framework for the Commercial Semi-State Sector, Dublin Port Energy & Decarbonisation Community, infrastructure and more.

Must-have requirements include a FETAC Level 8 undergraduate degree qualification in energy, environment, sustainability or an engineering discipline; a minimum of five years’ industry experience and ability to demonstrate competent knowledge in the fields of energy or sustainability; and management system experience (eg ISO 9001/14001/50001).

Those interested can find further information and apply for the position via LinkedIn HERE.

Published in Jobs

Scientists warn that an “unheard of” marine heatwave in the waters off Ireland and Great Britain poses a significant threat to marine wildlife and plant life.

As the Guardian reports, the emerging El Niño conditions in the North Atlantic and North Sea have seen sea temperatures rise as much as 5C above normal in some areas — smashing regional records.

Prof Daniela Schmidt of the University of Bristol says the current situation shows “the power of the combination of human-induced warming and natural climate variability”.

She adds: “In other parts of the world, we have seen several mass mortalities of marine plants and animals caused by ocean heatwave which have caused hundreds of millions of pounds of losses, in fisheries income, carbon storage, cultural values and habitat loss.

“As long as we are not dramatically cutting emissions, these heatwaves will continue to destroy our ecosystems. But as this is happening below the surface of the ocean, it will go unnoticed.”

The Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Environment
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World Sailing Information

World Sailing is the world governing body for the sport of sailing, officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

Founded in 1907, World Sailing's vision is for a world in which millions more people fall in love with sailing; inspired by the unique relationship between sport, technology and the forces of nature; we all work to protect the waters of the world.

World Sailing is made up of 144 Member National Authorities, the national governing bodies for sailing around the world and 117 World Sailing Class Associations.