Thursday, February 14, 2008

New marine mapping plans announced

THE annual INFOMAR seminar at the Marine Institute headquarters in Galway today 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.

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