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Trans-Atlantic voyage

Six countries team up to conduct climate change research


By Kelly Foss

A team of scientists from six countries — with a unique Memorial University connection — will depart from St. John’s, N.L., on April 27 on a trans-Atlantic voyage that’s studying the impact of climate change on the ocean.

The research being conducted on-board the Celtic Explorer is a Global Ocean Ship-based Hydrographic Investigations Program (GO-SHIP) survey, being led by the Marine Institute of Galway, Ireland.

Marine Institute, Ireland and NUIGalway, Ireland will be leading a team of international scientists on the RV Celtic Explorer.

Marine Institute of Galway is a partner in the newly-formed Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI), co-founded by Memorial University of Newfoundland, University of Prince Edward Island and Dalhousie University.

Established in the fall of 2016 through $220 million in funding from the Government of Canada and various private and public sector organizations, OFI supports multi-year research projects at the universities.

The research voyage represents the first step in the OFI partnership to explore sustainable ecosystems in the Northwest Atlantic and builds on a long-term relationship between Memorial University’s Marine Institute and the Marine Institute of Galway.

Key role

“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, professor of physics and physical oceanography, Memorial University, and researcher, OFI.

In addition to sequestering massive amounts of carbon dioxide, the Northwest Atlantic Ocean between Newfoundland and Labrador and Ireland plays a key role in controlling temperature in Europe and Eastern Canada and delivers life-supporting oxygen to the ocean interior.

Collaborative effort

The GO-SHIP voyage is a collaborative effort with representatives from Ireland, the U.K., Germany, Denmark, the U.S. and Canada sharing technology, expertise and the results from the on-board measurements.

In addition to studying climate change impacts, the scientists will examine the movement of nutrients and oxygen by ocean currents and collect data to assess acidification rates on the ocean’s ecosystem.

“The challenges associated with changing climate are too large-scale and complex for one institution, one research sector or even one country to tackle alone.” — Dr. Doug Wallace

“Those supporting the voyage on-board and on-shore are global experts, working to identify how climate change is impacting our oceans, which is a global issue,” said Dr. Doug Wallace, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Ocean Science and Technology, Dalhousie University, and researcher, OFI. “The challenges associated with changing climate are too large-scale and complex for one institution, one research sector or even one country to tackle alone.

“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.”

The research vessel will depart St. John’s on April 27, returning to Galway on May 23.

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