A new €6.7 million five-year climate change research initiative, Acclimatize, with the goal of improving the quality of coastal waters in both Ireland and Wales, was launched today (12th October).
The project has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Programme 2014-2020.
Through this project, which is led by UCD in partnership with Aberystwyth University, the teams hope to boost local tourism and the support ofmarine industries, such as shellfish harvesting.
They will identify pollution streams and their impact on coastal waters, in both urban and rural settings, and the impact of climate change on pollution.
Using this data, real-time models will be developed to inform the effects of climate change, through altered weather patterns, including rainfall, temperature and tides which impact the quality of water in coastal areas.
The project will lead to the development of a range of practical management methods, including smart real‐time predictive tools, to improve the quality of such coastal waters and ensure compliance with regulations to protect human health and the marine environment.
Seán Kyne TD, Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, said: “This week with Budget 2018 we have secured a 43 per cent increase in funding for energy and climate action initiatives to help us on our journey to a low carbon economy.
“Research initiatives such as Acclimatize are very important in assisting Government and other stakeholders in making informing decisions which maximise the effectiveness of the funding available”.
Professor Andrew J. Deeks, President, UCD said, “The ability to sustain our environment, to use natural resources wisely and to manage waste is central to our society and economy”.
He expressed his hope that the project, focusing on designated and ‘at-risk’ bathing waters, will help to bridge the knowledge gap regarding the pollution of at-risk bathing waters in Dublin Bay, and in a number of bays around Wales.
The large scale urban environment is represented in the project by ‘at-risk’ bathing waters in Dublin Bay (Sandymount, Merrion and Dollymount strands), whereas the rural agricultural environment will focus on ‘at-risk’ bathing waters in Wales.
Professor Wim Meijer, Head, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, who is leading the Acclimatize project said: “Climate change is predicted to produce more weather extremes and, in particular, storminess in North West Europe including the Irish Sea.
“This will have negative impacts on coastal water quality in the period to 2100 which will threaten the sustainable use of coastal waters which form the economic basis of coastal tourism and shellfish harvesting industries”.
He added that climate-proofing regulatory and infrastructural decisions affecting bathing water quality is a policy challenge, claiming that the policy evidence-base that will be provided in the Acclimatize project is urgently needed.
Professor David Kay, Centre for Research into Environment and Health, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University, who is leading the project in Wales said, “The first year of Acclimatize in Wales is progressing well with excellent support from relevant local authority and resource agency partners.
“The Acclimatize Cemaes Bay study location was chosen to assist with sustainable compliance of this site against the EU bathing Water Directive using the latest real-time modelling strategies to protect public health through cutting-edge modelling and management approaches.”
“The work has generated significant international interest already and early field data have been communicated to the WHO and EU policy and scientific communities including a presentation to the UK inter-agency bathing waters biennial conference in November 2017 in Wrexham.
“Follow-on work at additional sites, together with an examination of climate change impacts, will commence with our project partners in the autumn of 2017”.