Irish Fulbright Scholar’s Talk on Ocean Climate selected by TED

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Tuesday 30 May 2017: “How Pollution is Changing the Ocean’s Chemistry”, a talk by Irish Researcher and Fulbright Scholar Dr Triona McGrath, has been selected as a featured talk by TED.com. This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxFulbrightDublin, an independent event organised by the Fulbright Commission in Ireland and Fulbright Alumnus Dr Lorcan Walsh.

As we keep pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, more of it is dissolving in the oceans, leading to drastic changes in the water’s chemistry. Triona McGrath researches this process, known as ocean acidification, and in her talk she takes us for a dive into an oceanographer’s world.

A post-doctorate researcher at the National University of Ireland Galway, 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 McGrath tells us “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 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.”

Dr McGrath is a post-doctorate researcher at NUI Galway, funded by the Marine Institute, Ireland. As a Fulbright Scholar, she visited Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego in 2013 to develop her analytical skills in ocean carbon chemistry. She has been researching ocean climate change since 2008; her latest research project started in February 2017 and for the next 4 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 internannual variability of the carbon system in coastal waters. She has a Ph.D. in Chemical Oceanography and Bachelor of Marine Science from the NUI Galway.

Dr Triona McGrath’s TED Talk is available here: https://www.ted.com/talks/triona_mcgrath_how_pollution_is_changing_the_ocean_s_chemistry#t-530905

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For further information, please contact:
Emma Loughney -Communication Manager, Fulbright Commission of Ireland
Emma.loughney@fulbright.ie / 01.230.9802

 

Notes to the Editor

TED is a non-profit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world. TED Talks are influential videos from expert speakers on education, business, science, tech and creativity viewed all over the world.

TEDxFulbrightDublin 2016 took place in February 2016 and was organised by the Fulbright Commission Ireland and Fulbright Alumnus Dr Lorcan Walsh, with support from the US Embassy, the Irish Department of Communications Energy & Natural Resources, the Irish Research Council, Eirgrid, the Geological Survey of Ireland, and the Irish Fulbright Alumni Association.

The Fulbright Commission in Ireland annually awards grants for Irish citizens to study, research, or teach in the U.S. and for Americans to do the same in Ireland. Since its formation over 2,000 postgraduate students, scholars, professionals, and teachers have participated in the program between the U.S. and Ireland. The 2018-2019 Fulbright Irish Awards Application period will open on 31st August 2017.

Further information on Ocean Acidification: http://www.whoi.edu/OCB-OA/FAQs/