Displaying items by tag: Climate Change
#MarineScience - A talk on how pollution is changing the chemistry of the seas around Ireland has been selected as a featured video by TED.com.
The talk by Irish marine scientist and Fulbright Scholar Dr Triona McGrath discusses the process of ocean acidification, caused by the absorption of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into the world’s oceans.
A post-doctorate researcher at NUI Galway, Dr McGrath presented her talk on 6 February last year to a local audience at TEDxFulbrightDublin, organised by the Fulbright Commission in Ireland and Fulbright alumnus Dr Lorcan Walsh.
Dr McGrath’s team monitors levels of carbon dioxide in Irish marine waters to determine the level of carbon in the ocean and subsequent increase in ocean acidity.
Along with her colleagues, she published the first rates of ocean acidification for Irish offshore waters and the first baseline dataset of carbon parameters in Irish coastal waters.
This data is crucial for our understanding of the future health of our oceans, and can provide information to determine the impacts of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems.
In her talk, Dr McGrath states: “Ocean acidification is a global threat ... The rate of acidification is ten times faster than any acidification in our oceans for over 55 million years, our marine life has never experienced such a fast rate of change before ... There was a natural acidification event millions of years ago, it was much slower than what we're seeing today, this coincided with the mass extinction of many marine species.”
She also warns: “We will see acidification, we have already put too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere ... but we can slow this down, we can prevent the worst case scenario. The only way of doing that is by reducing our carbon dioxide emissions.”
As a Fulbright Scholar, Dr McGrath visited the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego in 2013 to develop her analytical skills in ocean carbon chemistry.
A researcher in ocean climate change since 2008, her latest research project started in February 2017 and for the next four years she will work with colleagues to further develop ocean acidification research through the continuation of an ongoing time series in the Rockall Trough and the determination of seasonal and inter-annual variability of the carbon system in coastal waters.
Dr McGrath has a PhD in Chemical Oceanography and a BSc in Marine Science from NUI Galway.
#ClimateChange - Preliminary results from the recent ‘health check’ of the Atlantic Ocean suggest a greater penetration of manmade chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) further into the deeper ocean since 20 years ago.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, an Irish-led international team of marine scientists from six countries set out from Newfoundland on 27 April on board the RV Celtic Explorer, to survey a transect of the Atlantic last measured two decades ago and investigate the impact of climate change on the deep ocean.
Explaining the team’s findings, Dr Evin McGovern of the Marine Institute and principal investigator on the GO-SHIP A02 survey said: “Although these chemicals have been phased out, they remain in the atmosphere and enter the ocean, where over time, they travel to the deep ocean.
“We measure the CFCs to tell the age of the water masses in the deep ocean and this helps us assess the uptake of fossil fuel carbon from the atmosphere and penetration into the deep ocean.”
The survey formed part of the Global Oceans Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigations Programme (GO-SHIP), which carries out systematic and global surveys of select hydrographic sections, through an international consortium of 16 countries and laboratories.
This was the first GO-SHIP survey to involve such a level of collaboration, with scientists from 10 leading universities and research institutes representing six countries.
Canadian Ambassador to Ireland Kevin Vickers visited the RV Celtic Explorer to meet the team in Galway following their arrival on Monday 22 May.
“This survey is a wonderful example of the Galway Statement in action as well as the longstanding collaboration on marine research between Ireland and Canada,” he said.
Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan added that the expedition’s scientists “are contributing to addressing some of the biggest questions for society and our interaction with our planet.”
Find out more about the survey on the [email protected] blog, where the GO-SHIP team aboard the RV Celtic Explorer recorded their work and experiences.
#MarineScience - An international team of marine scientists from six countries are currently sailing on Ireland’s national research vessel RV Celtic Explorer on a transatlantic voyage to study the impact of climate change on the ocean.
Departing from St John’s in Newfoundland on Thursday 27 April — after launching the miniature yacht Lancer a few days previously — and due to arrive in Galway on 23 May, the Marine Institute-led team of experts are surveying a transect of the Atlantic Ocean last surveyed 20 years ago to investigate carbon dioxide levels in the ocean.
The survey is essential to understand and project how carbon dioxide emissions are accumulated in the oceans and the atmosphere, as well as its effects on the acidification of the ocean.
The survey is part of the Global Oceans Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigations Program (GO-SHIP), which carries out systematic and global surveys of select hydrographic sections, through an international consortium of 16 countries and laboratories.
This is the first GO-SHIP survey to involve this level of collaboration with scientists from ten leading universities and research institutes representing six countries joining the survey.
Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan said: “The Marine Institute is proud to lead this truly international collaboration. This GO-SHIP A02 survey is a very real example of the Galway Statement in action: working together to better understand and increase our knowledge of the Atlantic Ocean and its dynamic systems, and promoting the sustainable management of its resources.”
The Galway Statement, signed at the Marine Institute 24 May 2013, launched the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between the EU, Canada and the USA.
The survey is co-ordinated by the Marine Institute and NUI Galway with research partners in Dalhousie University and Fisheries and Oceans, Canada; University of Exeter, United Kingdom; GEOMAR, Germany; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Columbia University, USA; and Aarhus University, Denmark.
“Ship-based surveys are still the only way to collect the best quality measurements of fundamental physical, chemical and biological properties known as Essential Ocean Variables,” said Dr Evin McGovern of the Marine Institute and principal investigator on the GO-SHIP A02 survey.
“Although technology has provided many new methods to collect ocean measurements, there’s really no substitute for going out on the ocean on a research vessel.
“We can use satellite technology to look at certain properties the ocean surface and can deploy autonomous argo floats to take some measurements to depths of 2000, but we need to carry out ocean surveys that can measure to get a complete picture of the chemistry of the ocean at different depths up to 5,000m.
“The transect we are surveying is a really dynamic area of the Atlantic for heat transport and carbon uptake and is hugely important to informing our understanding of our global climate and how the ocean regulates our climate,” added Dr McGovern.
“The Northwest Atlantic is one of the world’s largest sinks of carbon dioxide and despite progress in our understanding there’s still a huge lack of data as it relates to climate change’s impact on the ocean and what that means for the economy and society,” said Brad de Young, a professor of physics and physical oceanography at Memorial University, Newfoundland and an Ocean Frontier Institute researcher.
“Improving our scientific understanding and developing strategic and effective solutions for safe and sustainable ocean development requires sharing of expertise, international co-operation and exchange of data and best practices. And that’s what this voyage is all about,” adds Doug Wallace, Canada Excellence research chair at Dalhousie University.
The draft consultation report, Developing Resilience to Climate Change in the Irish Transport Sector, details measures such as coastal flood defences at Shannon Airport and the railway line at Rosslare Harbour, the latter of which is inching ever closer to the cliff on the eroding shoreline.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the East Coast line suffered significant damage north of Wicklow town during last month’s Storm Angus.
Predicted rises in temperatures and sea level over the next century are expected to bring more of such storms, with heavier rainfalls and an increased risk of flooding and landslides in prone areas.
All of this has prompted the new plan to identify key remedial works for future-proofing the country’s transport infrastructure.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.
#RisingSeaLevels - Rising sea levels around Ireland due to climate change are almost 7cm since the early 1990s.
The Irish Examiner writes that this is due to the rising temperature of the planet, greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and the melting of glaciers.
And the next five to 15 years is a crucial time period within which to act if we want to halt any permanent changes to the planet.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), climate change is most obvious in our changing sea levels.
The newspaper also writes that the number of high quality rivers has halved.
“Observed climate change impacts are most evident in the global temperature record, sea-level rise, loss of glaciers and ice sheets and changes in the nature and intensification of precipitation events,” the EPA report states.
“Since 1993, average sea level has risen around Ireland by just over 3cm per decade,” the report reads.
For further coverage the newspaper has more here
#MarineScience - Applications are invited from postgraduate students of marine science, atmosphere and climate-based sciences worldwide to participate in the Atlantic Ocean Climate Scholars Programme in Galway from 12-20 September 2016.
This intensive, accredited workshop will examine how climate and oceans interact, with particular examples from the Atlantic Ocean and higher latitudes.
The programme will be led by an international team of research leaders in climate science with contributions from policy makers and researchers in the field.
A number of scholarships are available to cover travel and accommodation expenses and the deadline for applications is this Friday 3 June 2016.
The relationships between human activities and the oceanic and atmospheric processes that drive our climate will be investigated in the context of the latest IPCC Assessment Report published in 2013.
Critical elements of the global climate system will be scrutinised with special reference to the Atlantic Ocean and its ecosystems. Ocean observation programmes, new technologies, and model outputs will be evaluated in the context of societal and governmental responses to climate change.
Workshop activities will include presentations, field trips and practical data sessions.
The Atlantic Ocean Climate Scholars Programme is a collaboration between the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research & Training (SMART) based in GMIT, NUI Galway, the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), the Partnership for the Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO), the Helmholtz Climate Programme REKLIM and is supported by the Nippon Foundation.
#ClimateChange - Models to predict the future climate indicate that global temperatures will rise by an average of as much as 4.5C by the end of this century, bringing a rise in sea levels and changes to rainfall patterns.
And these changes in the weather are already being felt in Ireland, according to Met Éireann's head of climatology Séamus Walsh, who says that even slight shifts, such as an increase in the number of warm days over 20C, have "a knock-on effect on natural ecosystems" that have adapted to Ireland's climate.
"Fragile habitats in vulnerable upland, peatland and coastal areas will come under increasing stress," he adds, noting also a 5% increase in rainfall over the last three decades, more so in the West and North West.
"Climate projections for rainfall have greater uncertainty than for temperature," he explains. "They indicate that overall rainfall amounts in Ireland might decrease slightly, summers are likely to become drier while winters may be wetter, especially in the west and north."
There are also indications of an increase in the number of very wet days – days with rainfall over 20mm – which means that such projections, when applies to river flows, show "an increased risk of winter flooding, an increased risk of short duration ‘flash’ floods and to possible water shortages in summer months due to higher temperatures and lower rainfall.
"The rise in sea levels will make low lying coastal areas more prone to flooding, especially from storm surges," he adds.
Met Éireann has more on the story HERE.
More than 60 scientists took part in the research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and announced at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union on Wednesday 16 December.
The study – based on global analyses including unique long-term data from the Marine Institute's catchment research facility at Newport, Co Mayo – found that lakes are warming an average of 0.34C, or 0.61F, each decade.
That's greater than the warming rate of either the oceans or the atmosphere, and it can have profound effects, the scientists say.
At the current rate, algal blooms – which can ultimately rob water of oxygen – are projected to increase 20 percent in lakes over the next century. Algal blooms that are toxic to fish and animals would increase by five percent.
These rates imply that emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, will increase four percent over the next decade.
"Lakes are important because society depends on surface water for the vast majority of human uses," said co-author Stephanie Hampton, director of Washington State University's Center for Environmental Research, Education and Outreach.
"Not just for drinking water, but manufacturing, for energy production, and for irrigation of our crops. Protein from freshwater fish is especially important in the developing world."
Temperature is one of the most fundamental and critical physical properties of water. It controls a host of other properties that include intricate living processes that have evolved within strict boundaries.
When the temperature swings quickly and widely from the norm, life forms in a lake can change dramatically and even disappear.
"These results suggest that large changes in our lakes are not only unavoidable, but are probably already happening," said lead author Catherine O'Reilly, associate professor of geology at Illinois State University.
Earlier research by O'Reilly has seen declining productivity in lakes with rising temperatures.
Funded in part by NASA and the National Science Foundation, the study is the largest of its kind and the first to use a combination of long-term hand measurements and temperature measurements made from satellites, offsetting the shortcomings of each method.
Study co-author Simon Hook, science division manager at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said satellite measurements provide a broad view of lake temperatures over the entire globe. But they only measure surface temperature, while hand measurements can detect changes in temperature throughout a lake. Also, satellite measurements go back only 30 years while some lake measurements can go back more than a century.
Lough Feeagh in Co Mayo was one of 235 lakes in the study that have been monitored for at least 25 years. While that's a fraction of the world's lakes, they contain more than half the world's freshwater supply.
The Marine Institute measures the surface water temperature of Lough Feeagh as part of the long term ecological monitoring of the Burrishoole catchment. The Burrishoole research station is an internationally important index site for diadromous fish monitoring, and water temperature is a crucial variable controlling growth, migration and survival of salmon, trout and eel in the catchment.
"The inclusion of data from Lough Feeagh in this study highlights the value of collecting local environmental long term data to inform global analyses," said Dr Elvira de Eyto, a biologist at the Marine Institute facility in Burrishoole and one of the studies co-authors.
Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan added: "The sharing of such data with global scientific networks makes an important contribution to worldwide climate change analyses, and our understanding of how the warming climate will affect our valuable aquatic resources."
The surface water of Lough Feeagh has warmed at a rate of 0.35C per decade between 1985-2009, although the rate of warming was lower than some other northern hemisphere lakes.
"We want to be careful that we don't dismiss some of these lower rates of change," said Hampton. "In warmer lakes, those temperature changes can be really important. They can be just as important as a higher rate of change in a cooler lake."
The researchers said various climate factors are associated with the warming trend. In northern climates lakes are losing their ice cover earlier, and many areas of the world have less cloud cover, exposing their waters more to the sun's warming rays.
Many lake temperatures are rising faster than the average air temperatures. Some of the greatest warming is seen at northern latitudes, where rates can average 0.72C, or 1.3F, per decade.
Warm-water, tropical lakes may be seeing less dramatic temperature increases, but increased warming of these lakes can still have large negative impacts on fish. That can be particularly important in the African Great Lakes, home to one-fourth of the planet's freshwater supply and an important source of fish for food.
In general, the researchers write: "The pervasive and rapid warming observed here signals the urgent need to incorporate climate impacts into vulnerability assessments and adaptation efforts for lakes."
Bray, Co Wicklow was the location for a unique Climate Change event on Friday (20th November) hosted by Seán Kelly MEP on the importance of achieving a global deal to reduce carbon emissions in Paris next month.
"I am honoured to have been chosen to be part of the delegation that will represent the European Parliament at the global UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December and will be the only Irish MEP to do so. We received our mandate with a huge majority from the Parliament last month and we are ready to work in Paris to get our key points across," Mr Kelly told attendees.
"Climate Change is truly one of the key challenges of this century. Failure to address it effectively will result in major adverse impacts that will affect all countries.
"Ireland, for example, is particularly vulnerable to loss of coastal assets due to rising sea levels, along with increased precipitation and the resulting flood risks - all of these would prove hugely costly, both socially and economically.
"The bottom line is, we need an ambitious and binding global agreement and we will push for that in Paris. If EU ambition is matched globally, we keep jobs and economic growth here, while meeting the 2oC objective," the MEP added.
Climate change is a cross sector challenge according to Mr Kelly which requires a concerted global effort. "We need to take action to limit these temperature increases, but we have a challenge to do so while meeting the parallel challenges of ensuring food security and maintaining EU competitiveness."
"The bottom line is, we need an ambitious and binding global agreement and we will push for that in Paris. If EU ambition is matched globally, we keep jobs and economic growth here, while meeting the 2oC objective," he said.
Event speakers included Jean-Pierre Thebault, French Ambassador to Ireland, Eamon Ryan, Leader of the Green Party, Mauro Poinelli, Head of Unit Environment, Forestry and Climate Change, European Commission, who examined the agricultural side of the debate and Neil Walker, IBEC’s Head of Infrastructure, Energy and Environment who presented the Irish business perspective.
#MarineWildlife - Climate change is driving fish species away from the tropics for more hospitable, warming waters elsewhere, according to scientists from the University of British Columbia.
RTÉ News has more on the story, which outlines that even in the best case scenario, the waters of the tropics are set to warm by one degree Celsius, promoting fish to migrate some 15 kilometres every decade towards the Arctic and Antarctic.
The Canadian university researchers used climate modelling based on findings from the past few decades to predict the situation for more than 800 fish species and marine invertebrates – and the results could be catastrophic for all coastal communities as the ecosystem changes.