CHC Scholar researching strategies to protect coastal ecosystems

December 2, 2014

Dr. Eugene Farrell, 2014-15 CHC Helicopter Scholar, pictured with Mr. Chris Hodson, CHC Helicopter’s General Operations Manager in Ireland.

Dr Farrell, Director of the MSc in Coastal and Marine Environments programme in NUIG, will travel to the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island to work with Dr. Ian Walker and to learn from his Coastal Erosion and Dune Dynamics(CEDD) programme. Prof. Walker is a leader in their research field and was recognized (2007) by the Canadian Geomorphology Research Group (CGRG) as one of Canada’s leading young geomorphologists for his work on dune dynamics and climate change impacts & adaptations.

From December 2013 to February 2014 the Irish coastline was impacted by a series of large storms – some of the largest on record. High water levels from the coupling of storm surge and very high spring tides caused substantial coastal erosion, particularly along the south and west coasts. Currently there is very little knowledge about the recovery rates of Irish beach-dune systems in the aftermath of the low frequency, high magnitude flooding from storms. Predicting the effects of these major storms is critical in order to assess the resilience of our unique coastal beach-dune ecosystems – especially as they are our first (and, in some cases, last) line of defence and are a first order control on ecological processes that impact plant species diversity and composition.