Cork student delivers climate predictions

Dedicated student spends four years watching the grass grow

RoseAnne O’Mahony, from Christ King Girls Secondary School, Cork, with her project on global warming and changes in  grass growth patterns, at the Young Scientist exhibition. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

RoseAnne O’Mahony, from Christ King Girls Secondary School, Cork, with her project on global warming and changes in grass growth patterns, at the Young Scientist exhibition. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Things are going to change when global warming takes over and one young scientist has discovered when it is going to happen. RoseAnne O’Mahony (15), attending Christ King Girls Secondary School in Cork, decided to look at one major problem a warming climate will hold for Ireland – a change in grass growth.

As a major beef producer, lots of grass is important to farmers but grass yields are going to fall and RoseAnne has calculated by how much on the basis of how high the average temperatures rise.

The dedicated student has been studying this for four years and, while data is like gold dust for a scientist, RoseAnne acquired a whole goldmine worth of information. She talked to experts in Ireland, the US and Germany, used international climate data, 32 years worth of grass growth data from Teagasc and also solar activity measurements.

She has worked out that yields will begin to fall sharply once our average temperature rises by two degrees and that this will happen between 2062 and 2077.

It will affect other crops, too, so yields will decline as world population continues to grow, she says. “And things will get worse as the two degree rise becomes the norm,” RoseAnne adds.

This is her first time at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition. “I came as a child and have always wanted to get here as a participant. I am delighted,” she says of the whole event.

The exhibition reaches its high point later this evening when the Young Scientist for 2015 is announced. The Irish Times website will provide immediate results as soon as they are announced.

The exhibition remains open to the public tomorrow until early afternoon. Tickets cost €6 for students, €12 for adults and €25 for a family pass.