Science and art collide: Climate project shines a light on the Irish coast

29 Sep 2022

Image: © drew/

The Línte na Farraige project uses light installations to show the projected rise in sea levels from future storm surges.

A new art and science collaboration wants to make people consider the potential impact of the climate crisis on the Irish coast.

The Línte na Farraige project features striking visual light installations, which are meant to show the projected rise in sea levels from future storm surges. These surges occur when strong winds drive water in the direction of the coast.

The first installation is launching at the Spanish Arch in Galway today (29 September) and will be followed by other coastal locations in the coming months. Installations are also planned in Dublin and Wexford.

The installations are designed by Finnish artists Timo Aho and Pekka Niittyvirta, while the projections are based on data from the sixth report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC report predicts a global sea level rise of between 0.28 metres and 1.01 metres, depending on the emissions scenario by the end of the century.

The art collaboration involved scientists from Trinity College Dublin, Maynooth University, the Climate Action Regional Offices (CAROs) and local authorities, along with designers from Algorithm and Native Events.

Trinity research fellow Dr Zoë Roseby is one of the scientists involved in the project. Roseby said the project aims to make people consider how “collective societal action can mitigate climate change” and inspire a “more sustainable and resilient future”.

“We have chosen to place these striking installations in locations of local significance to promote cohesion and action among communities,” Roseby added.

“The goal of the project is to provoke a dialogue around rising sea levels and to demonstrate that the future is still in our hands, as the rate and amount of future sea level rise depends – largely – on our greenhouse gas emissions.”

The team said Galway has become the go-to location for reporting on coastal flooding associated with storms. Since sea levels were first measured in Galway in 1842, they have risen by around 25 to 30 cm.

In January 2018, Galway city was flooded following Storm Eleanor. During this event, water levels rose 90 cm above the base of the Spanish Arch.

The line of light at the art installation currently reaches 1.9 metres, to indicate the predicted rise in sea levels if a similar storm surge occurred in 2150.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic