Wednesday 17 January 2018

DkIT boost to train next generation of climate scientists

Dundalk Institute of Technology's Centre for Freshwater and Environmental Studies (CFES) will spearhead a new €3.1M EU project to train twelve researchers to study the effects of storms and other climatic extremes on water quality in lakes and reservoirs.

The Centre for Freshwater and Environmental Studies (CFES) has been selected to lead a cross-European Innovative Training Network for the 'Management of Climatic Extreme Events in Lakes and Reservoirs for the Protection of Ecosystem Services' (MANTEL).

The MANTEL project received €3.1M in funding under the EU Marie Skodowska-Curie Action call. It brings together expertise in lake physics, biogeochemistry, microbiology, algal biology, and computer modelling to train a cohort of twelve young researchers to investigate the effects of these climatic events on lake and reservoir water quality.

Climatic extremes such as storms and heat waves are becoming more frequent in Ireland and Western Europe, a trend that has been linked to climate change and increased global warming. 2016 is now known to have had the highest global air temperatures on record, and 15 of the 16 warmest years on record have also now occurred since 2001[1]. Understanding the impacts of these climatic extremes is important because of the negative impacts they can have on the services that lakes and reservoirs provide for society, in particular provision of safe water for drinking and recreational use, and economic benefits such as fisheries and tourism.

The MANTEL project will be coordinated by DkIT's Dr Eleanor Jennings who said, 'extreme weather is now the 'new normal', not just for Irish and European weather but globally. It is of critical importance that we actively scrutinise the effects of these episodic and extreme weather events, which in some cases can contribute to the contamination of our water supplies with harmful substances. The MANTEL project will develop new insights and understanding into all aspects of the effects of extreme weather on water quality and it will equip some of Ireland and Europe's brightest scientists to inform management strategies that ensure water resources remain at good quality into the future."

As part of the project, CFES at DkIT will partner with the Marine Institute, using in-situ automatic monitoring stations on Lough Feeagh and Lough Furnace in Burrishoole, Co. Mayo which are managed and maintained by the Marine Institute.

Also commenting on the new project, Head of Research at DkIT, Dr. Tim McCormac said: "MANTEL is a major collaborative research initiative between some of Europe's leading environmental research institutes and CFES at DkIT's leading role in the project will ensure that Ireland remains at the forefront of innovation in this area. It also offers up huge and exciting opportunities for DkIT and Irish researchers in the area of environmental science."

Irish Independent

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