Derry scientist studying ‘geological footprints’

University of Ulster scientist Dr Paul Dunlop
University of Ulster scientist Dr Paul Dunlop

A Derry born scientist says studying the ‘geological footprints’ in the waters off north west Ireland could further climate change understanding.

University of Ulster scientist Dr Paul Dunlop, originally from Derry and who now lives in Buncrana, says the Irish continental shelf is a perfectly preserved ice age landscape which could unravel the climatic history of the north east Atlantic and predict how polar icesheets might respond to future global warming.

He says new data gathered from that ice age landscape could hold the key to predicting further climate change.

“Ice sheets are dynamic systems that form an integral part of the global climate system. They provide a unique opportunity to investigate climatic change as they both affect and are affected by it. As they grow and decay, ice sheets leave a rich geological record of their behaviour that can help us to unravel the timing and driving mechanisms of major climatic events.

“The Irish continental shelf is a critical area for climate research and recently discovered data on the Irish seabed can potentially be used to better understand the climate history of

and Irish ice sheets were once conjoined and expanded as far as the shelf edge between 27,000 to 29,000 years ago and that the break-up of these ice sheets was most likely initiated by rising global sea levels.”

“This new data discovered off the north west coast of Ireland can potentially help us to understand the impact of a rapidly melting Greenland ice sheet on the climate of the north Atlantic region.”

Dr Dunlop, who is a member of the Quaternary Environmental Change Research Group at the Environmental Sciences Research Institute at the University of Ulster, was speaking at a workshop during the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) 2012 conference in Dublin on Sunday.

The ESOF - Europe’s largest science conference, which is held every two years in a major European city - is dedicated to scientific research and innovation.

‘The Impact of Ice Sheet and Ocean Interactions on Climate Change’ workshop was one of over 140 workshops taking place during ESOF.