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Modelling maerl habitat dynamics in response to increased storminess

Modelling maerl habitat dynamics in response to increased storminess


​This research has been carried under the Geological Survey Ireland 2017 Short Call. This call provided funding for researchers in academia or industry on the island of Ireland for projects of less than 12 months duration and less than €25,000. 

Please note that the final report has been redacted to remove staff, financial and sensitive information. Some file sizes have been reduced to allow easier uploading/downloading, higher quality files are available on request. Supplemental information is also available on request in most cases. Please contact research[AT]

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this report are those of the author(s) and not of Geological Survey Ireland or the Department of Climate Action, Communications and Environment.

Lead Applicant:  Dr Siddhi Joshi

Host: NUI, Galway

Project Title: Modelling maerl habitat dynamics in response to increased storminess

Project Description: Rhodolith (maerl) beds are unique, relatively rare, free-living, non-geniculate coralline red algae
forming biodiverse habitats and dense biogenic debris beaches. These beds provide hard habitat for other marine algae on their surface and for invertebrates living on and in the rhodoliths. This one year field research project investigates the response of offshore maerl beds and maerl debris beaches to storminess. Specifically, the morpho-sedimentary evolution of maerl beaches over timescales of seconds (swash dynamics) to months (seasonal weather) will be measured using a suite of integrated, multi-disciplinary field and laboratory methods based on hydrodynamic modelling, bathymetric and topographic mapping, and groundwater fluxes. The experiments will utilise results from previous research (Griffith Geoscience PhD research of lead applicant SJ). The impact of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenarios on the regional hydrodynamic model will be made to quantify possible impacts of climate change on maerl. Using XBeach, an open-source numerical model with a domain size of kilometres, on the time scales of storms, outputs will be compared with nearshore-beach DEMs derived from UAV surveys (water and land), and supplemented with baseline INFOMAR LiDAR data from Greatman's Bay. This project will integrate oceanographic observations (waves, currents, tide) to compliment habitat mapping.