UCD researcher bags €2.5m to crunch the numbers on big waves

28 Mar 2019

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UCD mathematician Prof Frédéric Dias has received a significant sum of European funding to help us better predict large ocean waves.

With our climate becoming increasingly difficult to predict in the face of rapid onset climate change, researchers are eager to develop the most accurate models for a number of different common phenomena.

Now, Prof Frédéric Dias of University College Dublin (UCD) has received €2.5m in European Research Council (ERC) funding for a study focused on improving our understanding of the physics and dynamics of breaking ocean waves, in order to develop more accurate operational wave models.

Future Human

The mathematician and global leader in fluid dynamics hopes such models could help to improve wave forecasting models, improve criteria for the design of ships as well as coastal and offshore infrastructures, and help to assess the amount of erosion caused by powerful breaking waves.

Another important goal of the five-year project – entitled ‘Highwave: Breaking of highly energetic waves’ – is to quantify CO2 transfer velocities within waves, something that is key to predicting future climate patterns.

Dias now becomes one of only three researchers in Ireland to have been awarded a second Advanced Grant by the ERC, following in the footsteps of UCD’s Prof Kenneth Wolfe who was the first to do so. As part of Highwave, Dias will now create six research positions among both PhD and postdoctoral researchers at UCD.

“Our goal at the end of this study is to develop more accurate operational wave models and to better parameterise CO2 transfer velocities by taking into account sea states and not only wind speed,” Dias said after the announcement.

“Such models will have practical and economic benefits, such as: improving sea state forecasting, evaluating seabed response to extreme waves, determining structural loads on ships and offshore infrastructures, and optimising operational strategies for maritime and marine renewable energy enterprises.”

Meanwhile, Dias is not the only Irish-based researcher to be awarded an Advanced Grant under this latest round, with Trinity College Dublin’s Prof Luke O’Neill also being awarded €2.5m to investigate metabolic crosstalk in the regulation of inflammation.

In addition, 220 other researchers across Europe have been awarded ERC Advanced Grants in its latest round, worth a total of €540m as part of the Horizon 2020 programme. A total of 2,052 proposals were submitted under this round, meaning only 11pc were selected for funding.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic