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Displaying items by tag: Climate Change

Earlier today (Monday 14 November), Patrick O’Donovan, Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform visited the Marine Institute’s headquarters in Oranmore, Co Galway.

The minister met with the Marine Institute’s chief executive Dr Paul Connolly as well as Michael Gillooly, director of oceans, climate and information services (OCIS); Dr Glenn Nolan, manager of ocean climate services; Alan Berry, manager of offshore renewable energy and infrastructure services; and Dr Tomasz Dabrowski, team leader in ocean climate services.

Several Office of Public Works (OPW) officials were also part of the visit today, including Robert Mooney (head of planning and climate adaptation), Mark Adamson and Vincent Hussey (flood risk assessment and management).

Minister O’Donovan visited to gain an understanding of the role of the Marine Institute in climate adaptation and particularly how data is collected and used in climate modelling and monitoring, to deal with the impacts of climate change on our coastline.

As part of the visit, the Institute team gave an overview of how the climate modelling and monitoring that it manages is integrated with other parts of the national and international approach to informing the overall climate strategy.

Dr Connolly said: “We are delighted to welcome Minister O’Donovan and colleagues from the Office of Public Works to the Marine Institute to see our facilities and exchange ideas with colleagues from the OPW which contribute to addressing impacts of climate change on our coastline.”

Gillooly added: “Forecasting ocean and climate change is one of the institute’s strategic focus areas. The Marine Institute has a range of observational infrastructures around the Irish marine area continually gathering data on the marine environment.

“Over the years, we have built up significant time-series information and this data is central to developing digital services including operational modelling which inform climate mitigation and adaptation measures in areas such as sea level rise and flooding.”

The Marine Institute’s Oceans, Climate and Information Services Group provides support for national and international marine monitoring, marine mapping, research and development as well as information technology infrastructure and digital service development.

Published in Marine Science

Researchers from Trinity College Dublin are among a team of marine scientists that have used tiger sharks to discover the world’s largest seagrass ecosystem.

According to The Irish Times, the team attached cameras to the sharks who inhabit the enormous network of seagrass meadows in the Bahamas and help maintain its health by controlling numbers of grazing marine wildlife like turtles and manatees.

The video footage provided a never-before-seen look into an ecosystem that’s crucially important for carbon sequestration, among other things, while also helping the scientists to map the area which amounts to as much as 92,000 square kilometres.

The Bahamas have been known for an abundance of seagrass meadows but the full extent was not determined until now | Credit: Beneath the WavesThe Bahamas have been known for an abundance of seagrass meadows but the full extent was not determined until now | Credit: Beneath the Waves

“This is an exciting and important discovery for a range of reasons,” said Nicholas Payne, assistant professor in Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences and co-author of the research published in the journal Nature Communications.

“Here in Ireland, we have a huge coastal area that likely supports significant seagrass ecosystems,” he added.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Science

On a special climate-focused edition of RTÉ’s Prime Time this past week, the news programme put the plight of Ireland’s wild salmon stocks in the spotlight.

Reporter Oonagh Smyth visited the Dawros River in Connemara where salmon runs have allegedly shrunk from as many as 3,000 two decades ago to less than 900 today.

These figures lead to an even worse picture nation-wide, with data showing that only 150,000 wild salmon returned to their spawning grounds in 2019 — a decline of almost 80% on the more than 685,000 salmon recorded in 2000.

Various reasons are behind this alarming fall, with climate change chief among them — forcing salmon to migrate further to find colder waters, and interrupting the food webs that sustain the fish at sea and in our rivers.

But local factors have also been blamed, including the licensing of open-cage salmon aquaculture against which conservation groups and some arms of the State are united in their opposition due to the risks of sea lice infestations.

RTÉ News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) presented this week its ESPO Annual ESPO Environmental Report 2022 - EcoPortInsights.

The ESPO Environmental Report is part of EcoPorts, the environmental flagship initiative of ESPO and this 7th edition of the report is based on data from 92 European ports from 20 European countries, who filled in the EcoPorts Self-Diagnosis Method (SDM) To visit: www.ecoports.com.

The SDM is a free checklist of good practices that provides the database for the report.

The ESPO Environmental Report 2022 contains a number of positive trends amongst key indicators. For the first time since the start of monitoring, climate change has become the top environmental priority of ports. This underscores the value of the Environmental Report reporting on environmental performance of the sector. It provides ESPO and European policymakers with insights on the environmental issues that European ports are facing.

The other Top 10 priorities remain almost the same as for the past years, with air quality and energy efficiency joining climate change in the top three of port priorities.
In 2022, the report finds that ports continue to improve their environmental management, addressing their top priorities to a greater degree than in the past.

A growing share of ports are also getting certified with PERS, the only port-specific environmental standard on the market developed by ports, for ports.

Some key indicators such as environmental training programmes for port employees and monitoring of air quality saw slight downturns compared to last year, and will be followed up by ESPO ahead of next year’s report.

The ESPO Environmental Report strengthens the long-standing efforts of European ports to monitor and address high priority environmental issues, whilst communicating port efforts to key stakeholders.

“Since 2020, the world is going through never before seen crises and Europe’s ports are facing challenges they never had to face before. These challenges come on top of long-term efforts to move towards a more sustainable future in the maritime sector, with ports seeking to do their part in the decarbonisation of Europe. It is reassuring to see that the challenging period we are going through is not holding back ports to continue to engage towards their environmental goals and strategy. I hope this report is also a stimulus for ports to continue on this path,” says Isabelle Ryckbost, ESPO Secretary General.

“As the EcoPorts Network celebrates its 25-year anniversary, the 2022 Annual ESPO Environmental Report shows that European ports continue the good work with environmental monitoring and management. The 2022 Report highlights strengths to build on, and issues to address in the years to come. The work continues to make sure that the EcoPorts Network provides ports with essential tools to further engage in greening from the bottom up,” says Valter Selén, EcoPorts Coordinator.

Published in Ports & Shipping

New binding targets for greenhouse gas reductions in shipping are among a range of measures agreed today (Friday 3 June) by EU transport ministers today to reduce emissions in the transport sector in the coming decade.

The new measures, which are to apply to all EU member states, have been negotiated over the last 12 months and agreed under the EU’s “Fit for 55” package: the flagship suite of legislation announced last July to ensure the bloc meets its 2030 climate targets. The EU is aiming for a minimum 55% reduction in GHG emissions compared to 1990 levels.

With this agreement, the stage is set for negotiations with the European Parliament on the final text of these important pieces of legislation.

Welcoming the agreement reached, Ireland’s Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan stressed the importance of the progress made: “This agreement is the result of almost a year of intensive discussions. It is imperative that the EU puts ambitious targets in place if we are to meet our collective goals for the climate.

“Action is urgently needed, not only for road transport but also to realise genuine emission reductions in aviation and shipping. Today’s agreement shows that the EU can be the global leader on climate change.”

Minister Ryan said that while Ireland had pushed for even greater ambition in certain aspects of the maritime and aviation fuel files, the council-agreed texts represent a strong step forward in transitioning towards more sustainable fuels in both sectors.

Published in Ports & Shipping

East Cork, Waterford, Galway and the Shannon Estuary will be the first to bear the brunt of an “alarming and startling” rise in sea levels, a TD has warned.

As the Irish Examiner reports, David Stanton (Cork East) expressed his fears of a “truly frightening” outcome for many coastal communities in the continued absence of a national coastal risk strategy.

“There is no point waiting until the seawater is up to our knees and then saying we should have planned for this 20 years ago,” he said.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes
Tagged under

The 2022 EIFAAC Symposium will be hosted by Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications at Randles Hotel in Killarney on 20-21 June.

The rubric for the 31st symposium of the European Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Advisory Commission — the first since Dresden, Germany in September 2019 — is ‘Advances in Technology, Stock Assessment and Citizen Science in an Era of Climate Change’.

Four themes have been identified for the symposium relating to inland fish stock assessment, developments in freshwater fish monitoring technologies, assessing the impacts of climate change on freshwater fish and their habitats and the role of citizen science. The fifth theme will focus on the pros and cons of traditional vs recirculation aquaculture systems.

Abstract submission is open for presenters until this Friday 18 February. Notification of acceptance letters all be sent on 25 March and presenting authors will have until 28 March to register. The deadline for submission of manuscripts/presentations is 13 June, one week before the symposium.

For those wishing to attend, early-bird registration is now open at €120 (students €80) until 1 April. Payment made after this date will incur an extra administration charge of €20.

For more details on attending the conference, see the IFI website HERE.

Published in Aquaculture

In Co Wexford, a seven-year-old boy has joined the grassroots effort to conserve vulnerable seagrass beds around Ireland’s coastline.

According to RTÉ News, Shem Berry has lent a helping hand to volunteers who have been clearing an invasive seaweed, Sargassum muticum, which smothers a seagrass meadow at Kilmore Quay.

Seagrass meadows are considered key ‘blue carbon’ habitats, acting as a natural carbon-capture store while also filtering sediments, keeping shorelines stable and providing a safe home for inshore marine wildlife.

“I think it’s important to look after the environment, not only on land, but on the sea,” said Shem.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, environmental NGO Coastwatch has called for seagrass habitats to be specified for protection under the State’s new marine planning legislation.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

Space agencies in Europe and the US have signed a partnership to monitor rising sea levels and temperatures, melting ice, thawing permafrost and other impacts of climate breakdown.

NASA in the US and the European Space Agency (ESA) formalised the partnership this week with a “statement of intent”.

The agreement signed by ESA director-general Josef Aschbacher and NASA administrator Bill Nelson aims to “pave the way to leading a global response to climate change”, the organisations state.

“Climate change is an all-hands-on-deck, global challenge that requires action – now,” Nelson said.

“NASA and ESA are leading the way in space, building an unprecedented strategic partnership in Earth science,” he said.

“ This agreement will set the standard for future international collaboration, providing the information that is so essential for tackling the challenges posed by climate change and helping to answer and address the most pressing questions in Earth science for the benefit of the US, Europe, and the world,” he added.

This is not the first time ESA and NASA have joined forces – both bodies worked together on field campaigns in the Arctic to validate respective missions.

The two agencies also work together and with other partners on the recently launched Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission, a new project to extend the long-term record of sea-level rise.

In May, NASA announced its Earth System Observatory, which will design a new set of Earth-focused missions to provide key information to guide efforts related to climate change, disaster mitigation, fighting forest fires, and improving real-time agricultural processes.

This week’s joint statement of intent “complements activities underway for the Earth System Observatory”, they state.

Both ESA and NASA are currently defining a new gravity mission to shed new light on essential processes of the Earth system, such as the water cycle.

This will ‘weigh’ water in its various locations, such as underground and in the oceans, to understand water mass distribution and transport, they explain.

Josef Aschbacher said that “without doubt, space is the best vantage point to measure and monitor climate change, but joining forces is also key to tackling this global issue”.

“Timing is also important, particularly as we look to the COP26 climate conference later this year, where we have the chance to further make space an integral part of the solution when it comes to climate-change mitigation,” he said.

Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

This month the Marine Institute will launch a funding call for a major programme of marine science research in the area of ‘blue carbon’.

The absorption and storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the world’s oceans and coastal regions has been identified as one of the ways in which marine ecosystems can reduce the impacts of climate change.

Funding of up to €1.6m has been earmarked for the call to support a large-scale research project to run from 2021 to 2026.

Launched in June 2020, Ireland’s Programme for Government recognised the “the enormous blue carbon potential that the ocean has to offer in tackling climate change”.

Collaborative research initiative

The Government tasked the Marine Institute — the State agency responsible for marine research and innovation — with a collaborative research initiative, aimed at investigating the climate-change mitigation potential of blue carbon and working towards creating an inventory that will assist the EU in meeting Ireland’s climate-change objectives.

In order to prepare the ground for such a large-scale research programme, the Marine Institute commissioned a synthesis report to review existing knowledge on blue carbon habitats and their role as carbon sinks in Ireland. This report was published in May 2021.

“Blue carbon refers to carbon which is stored, or sequestered, in the ocean and in vegetated habitats around coastal regions,” explains the report’s lead author Dr Grace Cott, assistant professor at the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science.

“In terms of blue carbon which we can actively manage, what we are really referring to is the vegetation in coastal regions, and that means three main habitats: firstly, mangrove forests — which we don’t have in Ireland and are mostly found in tropical regions — secondly, salt-marsh habitats and finally, seagrass meadows.”

From photosynthesis to sediment trapping

Carbon sequestration — the long-term capture and storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere – can take place through a range of natural processes, from photosynthesis to sediment trapping, where carbon-based sediments from the tide are physically trapped by vegetation.

The Marine Institute report points out that Ireland’s tidally influenced coastal wetlands comprise approximately 160 square kilometres of salt-marsh and seagrass beds. Globally, although these habitats represent a much smaller area than terrestrial forests, their total contribution to long-term carbon storage is comparable to carbon sinks in tropical forests.

According to Dr Cott, salt marshes in Ireland are up to 10 times more efficient than agricultural grasslands at storing carbon on a per area basis. This is mainly due to the lack of microbial decomposition in these wet regions, which inland causes the release of carbon from the soil as carbon dioxide.

Supporting blue carbon into the future

The loss and destruction of vegetated coastal ecosystems threatens their ability to function as long-term carbon sinks, and mismanagement can lead to the release of stored carbon back into the atmosphere, says Dr Cott.

“But there is hope in the management of these resources,” she explains. “Even though researchers need to conduct further research into the matter, we are already becoming aware of certain strategies which can help preserve our blue carbon habitats around the Irish coast.”

These include allowing salt mash habitats to migrate inland, and improving water quality to optimise carbon capture in seagrass beds.

“Looking ahead, I believe that Ireland will need an appropriate management framework, led by Government, to enhance protection of these habitats in relation to carbon sequestration,” Dr Cott adds.

Published in Marine Science
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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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