"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.
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. This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxFulbrightDublin, organised by the Fulbright Commission in Ireland and Fulbright Alumnus Dr Lorcan Walsh.
Dr McGrath is a post-doctorate researcher at the National University of Ireland Galway, funded by the Marine Institute, Ireland. 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."
As a Fulbright Scholar, Dr McGrath 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.