University of Galway gets EPA funding for seven climate research projects

14 Feb 2023

The University of Galway Quadrangle Building. Image: University of Galway

The university’s projects cover various climate crisis issues such as greenhouse gas emissions, ozone levels, radon and Earth observation.

The University of Galway has confirmed that 11 climate research projects it is involved in have been funded by Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The university is directly leading seven of these projects and is partnered on a further four. The research projects cover various climate crisis issues, such as greenhouse gas emissions, ozone levels, radon, human biomonitoring and Earth observation.

First announced last April, the EPA issued a call for research projects that address various climate challenges. Last month, the EPA selected 42 of these submissions to receive a total of €10.7m in funding, which will support more than 200 researchers.

The University of Galway had the highest success rate in submissions, being awarded more than €2.3m of the total funding. The university’s VP of research and innovation, Prof Jim Livesey, said it is a “huge bonus to see such a high level of achievement for our researchers”.

“This investment by the EPA is a testament to the success of research across higher education in Ireland,” Livesey said. “The focus of this funding on environmental research further demonstrates the drive among our researchers to collaborate for the public good and the ambition to respond to the challenges facing humanity and society, now and in the years ahead.”

University of Galway climate projects

The funding was awarded for projects focused on addressing climate change evidence needs, delivering a healthy environment, facilitating a green and circular economy, and restoring the natural environment.

Some of the university’s funded researchers include Prof Colin O’Dowd, who aims to create a nitrous oxide emissions verification system. Dr Liz Coleman aims to improve our understanding of ozone levels and trends in Ireland, with a particular focus on the contribution of methane to the formation of ozone and how various policies can limit ozone pollution.

Dr James McGrath and Dr Miriam Byrne plan to make comprehensive assessment of the implications of radon in deep-retrofitted dwellings. Meanwhile, Dr Liam Heaphy plans to compare the carbon costs of new builds compared to restoring buildings, to contribute to recent initiatives to bring back town centre living.

Alastair McKinstry plans to build data infrastructure to make it easier and more affordable to access Earth observation and climate data, while Dr Agnieszka Indiana Olbert aims to use data from the EU’s Copernicus programme to improve coastal water monitoring programmes.

Lastly, Dr David Styles will develop a framework to generate key indicators of land use sustainability across air emissions, nutrient losses to water at catchment scale and economic outcomes at both farm and national scales.

Funding for the EPA programme came from the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic