Taking the temperature of the Atlantic: Six countries team up on RV Celtic Explorer

(LtoR) Dr. Evin McGovern, Principle Investigator, Marine Institute; Dr. Caroline Cusack, Project Manager, Marine Institute; and Prof. Peter Croot, Chief Scientist, NUIGalway getting ready for the GOSHIP expedition. Photo Andrew Downes XposureAn international team of scientists from six countries set sail today (27 April 17) on Ireland's national research vessel, RV Celtic Explorer on a trans-Atlantic voyage to study the impact of climate change on the ocean. Departing from St. John's Newfoundland, and due to arrive in Galway on 23 May, the Marine Institute led team of experts are surveying a transect of the Atlantic Ocean last surveyed 20 years ago to investigate carbon dioxide levels in the ocean. The survey is essential to understand and project how carbon dioxide emissions are accumulated in the oceans and the atmosphere, as well as its effects on the acidification of the ocean.

The survey is part of the Global Oceans Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigations Program (GO-SHIP) which carries out systematic and global surveys of select hydrographic sections, through an international consortium of 16 countries and laboratories. This is the first GO-SHIP survey to involve this level of collaboration with scientists from ten leading universities and research institutes representing six countries joining the survey.

Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO Marine Institute said, "The Marine Institute is proud to lead this truly international collaboration. This GO-SHIP A02 survey is a very real example of the Galway Statement in action: working together to better understand and increase our knowledge of the Atlantic Ocean and its dynamic systems, and promoting the sustainable management of its resources."

The Galway Statement signed at the Marine Institute 24 May 2013 launched the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between the EU, Canada and the USA. The survey is coordinated by the Marine Institute and National University of Ireland, Galway with research partners in Dalhousie University & Fisheries and Oceans, Canada, University of Exeter, United Kingdom, GEOMAR, Germany, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution & Columbia University, USA and Aarhus University, Denmark.

"Ship-based surveys are still the only way to collect the best quality measurements of fundamental physical, chemical and biological properties known as Essential Ocean Variables" explains Dr Evin McGovern, of theGOSHIP team in Galway Ireland getting ready for their expedition on the RV Celtic Explorer. Photographer Andrew Downes Xposure Marine Institute and Principal Investigator on the GO-SHIP A02 survey. "Although technology has provided many new methods to collect ocean measurements, there's really no substitute for going out on the ocean on a research vessel. We can use satellite technology to look at certain properties the ocean surface and can deploy autonomous argo floats to take some measurements to depths of 2000, but we need to carry out ocean surveys that can measure to get a complete picture of the chemistry of the ocean at different depths up to 5000m. The transect we are surveying is a really dynamic area of the Atlantic for heat transport and carbon uptake and is hugely important to informing our understanding of our global climate and how the ocean regulates our climate," said Dr McGovern.

"The Northwest Atlantic is one of the world's largest sinks of carbon dioxide and despite progress in our understanding there's still a huge lack of data as it relates to climate change's impact on the ocean and what that means for the economy and society," said Brad de Young, a professor of Physics and Physical Oceanography at Memorial University, Newfoundland and an Ocean Frontier Institute researcher.

"Improving our scientific understanding and developing strategic and effective solutions for safe and sustainable ocean development requires sharing of expertise, international co-operation and exchange of data and best practices. And that's what this voyage is all about" adds Doug Wallace, Canada Excellence Research Chair, Dalhousie University.

The RV Celtic Explorer departs St. John's Newfoundland on April 27, returning to Galway on May 23.


For more information contact Sinead Coyne/Lisa Fitzpatrick 087 9477090/ 087 2250871 Marine Institute.

Notes to editors
Funding Acknowledgement:
This survey is carried out with the support of the Marine Institute and funded under the Marine Research Programme by the Irish Government. The CFC and Carbon team activities are funded through the AtlantOS project under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme grant agreement No. 633211. Support to the Carbon and Nutrient teams, is funded by the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Ocean Science and Technology.

Scientists from the Marine Institute and National University of Ireland, Galway are coordinating this survey. Dr. Evin McGovern from the Marine Institute is the survey's principle investigator, with the Marine Institute directing the project management, technical support and the overall science-lead on key aspects of the survey. Prof. Peter Croot from NUI, Galway is the on-board Chief Scientist and responsible for scientific programme decisions on board. The onboard survey team includes scientists from the Marine Institute and NUI, Galway, the University of Exeter in the UK, GEOMAR in Germany, Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the USA with other Institutions in Canada and Denmark also involved, in survey planning and support, each bringing complementary expertise.

About Marine Institute
The Marine Institute is the national agency responsible for marine research, technology development and innovation in Ireland. The Marine Institute provides scientific and technical advice to Government to help inform policy and to support the sustainable development of Ireland's marine resource.

GO-SHIP provides international coordination aiming at sustained decadal reference hydrographic section repeats (39 world-wide), collecting data related to physical oceanography, the carbon cycle, marine biogeochemistry and ecosystems. GO-SHIP feeds into the Ocean Observations Panel for Climate (OOPC), and the International Ocean Carbon Coordination Project (IOCCp) as part of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), and the World Climate Research Program (WRCP). By coordinating approximately decadal observations for the inventories of heat, freshwater, carbon, oxygen, nutrient and transient tracers, covering the ocean basins from coast to coast and full depth (top to bottom), with water column and surface water measurements of the highest accuracy, Go-SHIP is contributing greatly to detection of physical and biogeochemical changes in our oceans.

About OFI
The Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI) is a collaborative research initiative working to sustainably harness the vast potential of the world's ocean and meet the ecological, economic and societal challenges of the future.

OFI is a partnership between Dalhousie University, Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Prince Edward Island. Other partners include scientists from three of the Government of Canada's federal laboratories, the Royal Canadian Navy, National Film Board of Canada, Nova Scotia Community College, provincial governments of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador and various private sector businesses and industry. International research institutes involved in OFI are: Alfred Wegener Institute (Germany), Christian-Albrechts-Universitat zu Kiel (Germany), GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research (Germany), Institute of Marine Research (Norway), LabexMER (France), Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University (New York), Marine Institute, Galway (Ireland) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Massachusetts).