Last week, scientists from all over Ireland and Europe were trapped on Inishmaan for three days as a result of a typical November storm. Luckily, studying such extreme weather and its effect on the Irish coast and climate change was exactly why they were there. The scientists had been attending a scientific conference showcasing research on ocean science, forecasting and climate change focused on developing a roadmap towards a permanent Aran Islands International Research Station (AIRS).
Aran Islands International Research Station (AIRS)
Inishmaan is uniquely placed for such a permanent research station, and would open major new perspectives for Irish and European research, not only in wave and storm science but also on a variety of other areas such as geology, agronomy, botany, climate change, archaeology, and renewable energies.
This unique location provides unparalleled access to study ocean storms and weather systems, areas of research of critical importance as the world struggles to understand and adapt to climate change. The conference provided a timely forum for leading international scientists to meet with members of the local community to discuss how to best serve ocean and climate science, and to consider how the research station could be adapted into a more permanent facility.
The HIGHWAVE station had been planned since 2019 by Professor Frederic Dias and Senior Research Engineer Arnaud Disant, was funded by the European Research Council, and has been operational since 2021. It is now providing invaluable data on local wave conditions and their effects on coastal erosion and future global warming trends.
The conference began with opening addresses from Prof Orla Feely, UCD Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact, and Prof Philippe Maitre, Vice-President, Research Strategy from ENS-Paris, the two founding institutions of AIRS. The local community was represented by the Aran Island Energy Coop (CFOAT), Comhlacht Forbartha Inis Meáin, and Coláiste Naomh Eoin, and there were exciting presentations that caught the attention of the scientific representatives of Ireland, France, Italy, USA, Norway, Uruguay, and the Netherlands.
The conference concluded with a clear consensus on the need for a permanent research station on the Aran Islands, and UCD and ENS will work together in pursuit of this.
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