The annual INFOMAR seminar at the Marine Institute headquarters in Galway today (13th February), announced new plans for marine mapping and outlined how the project is supporting efforts to combat climate change.
INFOMAR (INtegrated Mapping FOr the Sustainable Development of Ireland’s MARine Resource) is the national marine mapping programme and follows on from the Irish National Seabed Survey, it is managed jointly by the Marine Institute and Geological Survey of Ireland. It is a multi-annual NDP supported programme and provides vital baseline data to support a range of marine activities from shipping safety, to aquaculture and research.
In 2007 the INFOMAR team surveyed more than 4,600sq.kms of area, discovering new offshore features including a major glacial moraine over 15km long and a 40km long deep trough extending along the Dingle peninsula coastline. In addition to offshore of Dingle, Bantry, Dunmanus and Galway Bays were extensively mapped. All of the digital data produced by the project is now available free to download from a new interactive map on the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) Website.
Among the projects and research being supported by INFOMAR are a number of Climate Change initiatives:
- Mapping was carried out off Belmullet for the site selected for a new Wave Energy facility.
- INFOMAR supported IMAGIN, a project examining the feasibility of extracting aggregates from the Irish Sea, recognising significant potential reductions in the carbon footprint of the industry by moving production offshore.
- Drill cores taken by the project in Galway Bay show evidence of extreme weather events in the relatively recent past, which may reflect former climate change.
- Galway Bay data is feeding into a new study into groundwater interactions, which it is hoped will help understand the cyclical flooding and drought events in the surrounding area, which are predicted to worsen with climate change.
“The wide range of uses to which INFOMAR data is being put highlights the importance of the programme to the national research and development agenda.” According to John Evans, Joint Programme Manager, INFOMAR. “We are delighted that our data is being used in Climate Change studies and are happy to work with other projects that feel our data could be of use.”
In 2008, it is intended to switch focus initially to the northwest, with mapping of Sligo and Donegal Bays, using both airborne laser and ship mounted acoustic systems. Work will later be carried out offshore Waterford and Cork and in Dublin Bay. In 2008 the INFOMAR data, along with all previous INSS data, will also be made available through commercial marine navigation packages and be included in the international General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) which aims to provide the most authoritative, publicly-available bathymetry data sets for the world's oceans.