Marine Modelling Group

 

The Marine Modelling Group at NUI Galway conducts research in the numerical modelling of surface water environments - from freshwater rivers and lakes, through brackish estuaries and shallow coastal waters to shelf seas and the deep ocean. The Group is affiliated with both the Ryan Institute for Environment, Marine and Energy Researchand the Energy Research Centre.

Water is essential to all known forms of life on Earth and is therefore one of our most important resources. The vast majority (98%) of Earth’s water is present in surface waterbodies such as oceans, rivers and lakes; most of the remaining resource lies below the surface as ground water (2%) while a very small proportion (0.001%) is also present in the atmosphere in forms such as vapour or precipitation.

Surface waters cover approximately 71% of the Earth’s surface. Marine, or saline, waters account for 97% of all surface waters while freshwater accounts for just 3%. While freshwater is obviously important to humans as a supply of drinking water, surface waterbodies in general are important for many different reasons. For example, they are a source of food, conduits for waste disposal, and areas of recreation and scenic beauty.

 

Over the years surface waters have been subject to the consequences of a broad range of human activities including reclamation of saltmarsh and mudflat, modifications (e.g. canalisation, dredging) for shipping and transport, agricultural practices, extraction of renewable natural resources such as fisheries, and of course the discharge of domestic and industrial wastes. Such anthropogenic activities pose a significant threat to the quality of our surface waters and many waterbodies have already suffered severe damage. 60% of the world's population lives along the coast and with global population expected to double by mid-century the stresses on our surface waters will only worsen. It is important that we can manage our surface waters in a sustainable manner to ensure the quality of this important natural resource is preserved for future generations.

Numerical models help to provide a scientific understanding of the physical, chemical and biological processes at play in natural waterbodies. When developed and applied correctly numerical models can also be used to make predictions regarding the response of a waterbody to outside influences which can then be incorporated in management decisions - as such they are an invaluable management tool.