Deep sea expedition on impact of carbon


IRISH SCIENTISTS are to participate in a deep sea expedition to the edge of the Continental Shelf which aims to research the impact of carbon capture and storage on marine life.

Marine biologist Rowan Byrne, researcher at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, and several colleagues from the Marine Institute in Galway will join international colleagues on British research ship RRS James Cook next month.

The Changing Oceans expedition is led by Prof Murray Roberts of the Heriot-Watt University Centre for Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology.

Mr Byrne’s remit is to study the impact of leaks from potential carbon capture systems which may be located in deep sea environments. Carbon capture and storage or sequestration is a geo-engineering solution to the impact of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which have multiplied since the industrial revolution.

This has contributed to a rise in global temperatures, forming carbonic acid in the oceans which has resulted in harmful acidification.

Statoil’s Sleipner field in the North Sea is the location for one of the world’s first three such carbon-capture projects, which involves stripping of CO2, its transport by pipeline or ship, and storage in deep aquifers of depleted oil or gas fields.

Mr Byrne plans to simulate the effect of CO2 leaks in a deep sea environment by exposing cold water coral and shellfish collected on the edge of the Continental Shelf to such conditions. The expedition will take place from May to June on the James Cook.

Further details are available on websites