Ulysses to assist in monitoring Irish Sea

November 5, 2002

Brussels, 04 Nov 2002

Ulysses, one of the commercial ferries that regularly crosses the Irish Sea, is to be used by scientists from Wales and Ireland in a three year project to monitor water quality in the Irish Sea.

Thanks to European funding under the Interreg programme, scientists from the University of Wales' Centre for applied oceanography and the National University of Ireland are able to team up with Irish Ferries to introduce a practical solution to environmental monitoring of the Irish Sea.

The team will place optical sensors on the Irish ferry in order to collect a continuous colour information about the surface of the Irish Sea throughout the year.

This is the ideal solution as it is impossible to remotely observe ocean colour measurements through cloud, and time on research vessels is limited and expensive.

'The information from the sensors on board the ferry will provide us with a unique record of the water quality of the central Irish Sea, which we just wouldn't be able to collect in any other way,' explains Dr Gay Mitchelson-Jacob of the University of Wales.

The team expects the water to be browner and carrying more sediment during the winter months, to appear greener in spring as the plankton or algae in the water blooms and to appear blue as the waters clear during the summer months.

'This new information will give us a longer time scale of the health of the Irish Sea. The detectors will also pick up any immediate changes due to pollutants such as oil. Detecting oil spills may, for example, enable us to predict where the oil slick would reach the shore and provide a head start in any coastal protection measures,' explains Dr Dave Bowers from the University of Wales.

'As well as managing the environmental protection of this ecologically vulnerable area, the data we collect will contribute to a greater understanding of the area from a range of perspectives from managing fisheries to ecological conservation to understanding climate change,' said Dr Peter Bowyer of the National University of Ireland.

For further Information, please contact: Dr Gay Mitchelson-Jacob Email: egm@bangor.ac.uk

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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