Environmental Research Institute - Journal Articles

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    Cold adaptation does not handicap warm tolerance in the most abundant Arctic seabird
    (The Royal Society, 2024-01-17) Beaman, Julian E.; White, Craig R.; Clairbaux, Manon; Perret, Samuel; Fort, Jérôme; Grémillet, David; Institut Polaire Français Paul Emile Victor; Australian Research Council
    Arctic birds and mammals are physiologically adapted to survive in cold environments but live in the fastest warming region on the planet. They should therefore be most threatened by climate change. We fitted a phylogenetic model of upper critical temperature (TUC) in 255 bird species and determined that TUC for dovekies (Alle alle; 22.4°C)—the most abundant seabird in the Arctic—is 8.8°C lower than predicted for a bird of its body mass (150 g) and habitat latitude. We combined our comparative analysis with in situ physiological measurements on 36 dovekies from East Greenland and forward-projections of dovekie energy and water expenditure under different climate scenarios. Based on our analyses, we demonstrate that cold adaptation in this small Arctic seabird does not handicap acute tolerance to air temperatures up to at least 15°C above their current maximum. We predict that climate warming will reduce the energetic costs of thermoregulation for dovekies, but their capacity to cope with rising temperatures will be constrained by water intake and salt balance. Dovekies evolved 15 million years ago, and their thermoregulatory physiology might also reflect adaptation to a wide range of palaeoclimates, both substantially warmer and colder than the present day.
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    Tidal stream energy potential in the Shannon Estuary
    (Elsevier Ltd., 2021-12-18) Fouz, D. M.; Carballo, R.; López, I.; Iglesias, Gregorio; European Regional Development Fund; Xunta de Galicia
    The tidal and river in-stream energy resource in the Shannon Estuary (W Ireland) is investigated using of high-resolution numerical modelling and spatial analysis. Although freshwater discharges are large, their influence on the available resource is found to be all but negligible, the tide being the main driver of estuarine circulation. The Tidal Stream Exploitability (TSE) index is adapted to the analysis of estuaries with non-depth-limited areas (TSEndl), such as the Shannon Estuary, and then used to select the hotspots with potential for a tidal stream farm. For this purpose, a new depth penalty-limiting function is defined to avoid overestimating the available energy potential in areas with depths greater than those required for tidal energy converter operation. Seven hotspots are identified based on the revised index. The approach followed in this study illustrates the applicability of high-resolution numerical modelling and spatial analysis for identifying the most appropriate areas for tidal stream energy conversion. Finally, the potential of tidal stream energy to contribute to the much-needed decarbonisation of the energy mix in Ireland is emphasized.
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    A holistic methodology for hydrokinetic energy site selection
    (Elsevier Ltd., 2022-04-25) Fouz, D. M.; Carballo, R.; López, I.; Iglesias, Gregorio; European Regional Development Fund; Xunta de Galicia
    Hydrokinetic energy can contribute to diversify and decarbonise the energy mix in many coastal regions, in particular estuaries. These are typically areas of high environmental value and with intense socioeconomic activity. The aim of this work is to provide a comprehensive methodology for selecting the optimum locations for hydrokinetic energy exploitation, by considering all the relevant aspects which affect the decision-making process, and improve the current available procedures. The methodology is centred around a novel holistic index, the Integrated Hydrokinetic Energy (IHE) index, which considers: (i) the exploitable resource, (ii) the costs of installation, and (iii) the socioeconomic and environmental aspects. The approach is illustrated through a case study in the Shannon Estuary, on the west coast of Ireland. It is shown that the application of this methodology facilitates the planning and reduces the uncertainties in the development of a hydrokinetic farm project.
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    Pectin as a biopolymer source for packaging films using a circular economy approach: Origins, extraction, structure and films properties
    (Elsevier, 2023-12) Butler, Ian P.; Banta, Russel A.; Tyuftin, Andrey A.; Holmes, Justin D.; Pathania, Shivani; Kerry, Joseph P.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Food Institutional Research Measure
    The world currently faces a looming crisis, with both energy production and packaging manufacturing inextricably tied to the availability of oil. No biomaterial exists with sufficient universal properties to replace synthetic plastics. To date, research into renewable materials has remained largely focused on a select few biopolymers. Current research into the next generation biomaterials focuses on existing, sustainable, waste streams as a source of renewable polymers. Pectin, the focus of this current review, is a relatively cheap, widely available polysaccharide, usually extracted from apple pomace and fruit extracts. While widely employed in food products as a hydrocolloid, pectin has still not been widely investigated as a potential packaging material. In this review, the structure of pectin and its extraction are outlined, and the future of pectin within the compostable packaging field is established. The ramifications of failing to address the correct environmental measures and achieve a balanced carbon cycle are unavoidable. Identifying and utilizing what is currently described as waste or under-utilised, yet sustainable, materials which could reduce our dependence on oil is crucial. The established position of pectin in the food industry, and its processability on a commercial scale, give pectin significant advantage over alternative biopolymer materials for potential use in food packaging applications.
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    Too hot to handle? An urgent need to understand climate change impacts on the biogeochemistry of tropical coastal waters
    (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2023-12-12) Carreira, Cátia; Joyce, Patrick W. S.; Morán, Xosé Anxelu G.; Carvalho, Susana; Falkenberg, Laura; Lønborg, Christian; Danmarks Frie Forskningsfond
    Tropical regions contain ecologically and socio‐economically important habitats, and are home to about 3.8 billion people, many of which directly depend on tropical coastal waters for their well‐being. At the basis of these ecosystems are biogeochemical processes. Climate change is expected to have a greater impact in the tropics compared to temperate regions because of the relatively stable environmental conditions found there. However, it was surprising to find only 660 research articles published focusing on the impact of climate change on the biogeochemistry of coastal tropical waters compared to 4823 for temperate waters. In this perspective, we highlight important topics in need of further research. Specifically, we suggest that in tropical regions compared to temperate counterparts climate change stressors will be experienced differently, that organisms have a lower acclimation capacity, and that long‐term baseline biogeochemical datasets useful for quantifying future changes are lacking. The low number of research papers on the impacts of climate change in coastal tropical regions is likely due to a mix of reasons including limited resources for research and limited number of long time series in many developing tropical countries. Finally, we propose some action points that we hope will stimulate more studies in tropical coastal waters.