Arctic ‘neighbour’ Ireland sets up research group focused on the region

“Arctic change is of huge significance to Ireland.”

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A new Irish Arctic research network will focus on both physical and social science in the region. (Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)

A newly established network for Irish academics aims to help that make that country the most of its scientific activities related to the Arctic as it seeks to identify how warming temperatures will affect the region and Ireland itself.

“As an Arctic neighbour, Ireland is exposed to the effects of a warming ocean, such as rising sea levels, increasing storm intensity and changing marine ecosystems,” said Paul Connolly, the head of Ireland’s Marine Institute, one of the groups that helped to establish the Network of Arctic Researchers in Ireland.

The network’s members, currently about 20 academics affiliated with universities in Ireland and abroad, are engaged in “increasingly urgent” research that seeks to identify the environmental and societal pressures on the region, according to Audrey Morley, of the National University of Ireland, Galway, and the leader of the the group.

“Arctic change is of huge significance to Ireland,” she said, “but our work understanding how it affects the Arctic socially is one of the most important aspects of our work.”

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Establishing a national group, she said, will help keep the Irish public and decision-makers informed about the “real risks” that global warming poses to the Arctic and Ireland.

Another of the benefits of the network, according to Connolly, is that will allow scientists to coordinate research and their participation in regional groups like the EU, as well as internationally.

“Scientists based in Ireland can make a real and meaningful contribution to Arctic research, and help to develop and implement adaptation responses from local to global scales” he said.

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The Marine Institute is slated to make its research vessel, the Celtic Explorer, available for a research voyage to the waters north of Ireland.

Ireland’s foreign ministry, another of the groups helping to establish the network, expected the group and its activities would draw attention to Ireland’s increasing involvement in the region.

“Given the impact of climate change and the increasing relevance of strategic developments in the Arctic, the Arctic region is of growing importance to Ireland,” said Ciara Delaney, the head of the foreign ministry’s EU office.