Environmental Change

 Image Environmental Change

The Environmental Change Research Cluster brings together researchers who are interested in improving our understanding of environmental systems. In particular, how temporal variability is influenced by issues relating to climate change and human activities at various scales. Thematic areas of research are:

  • Coastal Systems
  • Geographic Information Systems & Remote Sensing
  • Climate change and Quaternary palaeoclimate
  • Biogeography.

Our research is motivated by a the conviction that informed decision making must be based upon scientific data as we try to predict how these natural systems will respond to short- and long-term changes. We are proud of our multidisciplinary approach, its international outlook, and its extensive network of collaborations with private and government organisations, linked to a strong research tradition.

Cluster Members 

Dr Gordon Bromley
Dr Liam Carr 
Dr Eugene Farrell 
Dr Kevin Lynch 
Dr Karen Molloy 
Dr Audrey Morley  
Dr Terry Morley 
Dr Aaron Potito 
Dr Chaosheng Zhang 


Dr Margaret Jackson
Christine Loughlin

Postgraduate Students

Marta Cabella
Dan Clavin
Nessa Golden
Michelle Curran
Xu Haofan
Dilovar Haydarov
Axel Leahy
Daithi Maguire
Seamus McGinley
Syed Muhammad Abbas

Megan Murphy-O'Connor
Konrad Metzer
Carla Pedroso Mateus



In the AELCLIC Project, we understand that Climate-Change adaptation is site specific and requires the support of all the people and groups living, working and enjoying a particular landscape. The project aims at defining and testing proactive and catalyzing models for the creation of local consortia with the social, economic, technical and administrative capacity to define their own Landscape Climate-Change Adaptation Plans (LACAP).

Principle Investigator(s): Dr Kevin Lynch, Dr Liam Carr and Dr Eugene Farrell
Contact Name: Dr Kevin Lynch,
Project website: https://aelclicpathfinder.com


Project Description: In this project knowledge institutes from three countries will work together with organisations in five countries to develop and test new techniques for improved peatland carbon assessment and accounting to highlight the region’s natural potential for carbon reduction. The project works with innovative companies in the field of restoration and develops partnerships with local and regional stakeholders to increase the impact of peatland restoration pilot projects and maximize socio-economic benefits.

Principle Investigator(s): Dr Terry Morley  Dr Niall O’Brolchain (Insight Centre), Dr Eugene Farrell 
Contact: Dr Terry Morley
Funded by: EU -  INTERREG NWE Programme

Impacts of nitrogen pollution on a protected high-elevation Tibetan Plateau lake

A sediment record from Bander Lake shows increased N-deposition through atmospheric and agricultural pathways since ca. 1990, which has resulted in lake eutrophication and changing ecology at this protected site. 

Principle Investigator(s): Dr Aaron Potito, Luo Yuxin (Sichuan Univ), David Beilman (Univ of Hawai), Dr Karen Molloy, & Tang Ya (Sichuan Univ)
More info: Project link

Holocene hydrological change in the Midwestern United States

Lake sedimentary records from two sites in the Midwestern U.S. are being used to reconstruct broad-scale changes in regional hydrology during the Holocene. 

Principle Investigator(s): Dr Aaron Potito, David Porinchu (U Georgia, USA)
More Info:  Project Link

SEERAC - Spatially Explicit Ecological Risk Assessment Framework for Conservation Planning of Coastal Waters

This project will seek to develop a quantitative ecological risk assessment framework for developments in coastal waters and adopt and demonstrate the use of a systematic spatial conservation methodology as a decision support system for consent authorities. Our framework combines information on ecosystem vulnerability and recoverability to highlight areas where species and habitats are most at risk from adverse effects of human activities. The addition of socio-economic data to the framework will enable policy makers to make informed decisions of the costs and benefits associated with various coastal activities.

Principle Investigator(s): Dr Terry Morley, Dr Stephen Hynes (SEMRU), Dr Oliver Tully (MI)
Researchers: Dr Patricia Breen and Christine Loughlin
Contact Name: Dr Terry Morley (or email seerac@nuigalway.ie)
More info: https://seerac.weebly.com/
Funded by: DAFM: Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Assessment of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) over rapid climate transitions

The objectives of the project are to address our limited understanding of how the climate system will respond to future change. Specifically, we investigate the climate boundary conditions that initiate a response of the AMOC during abrupt climate events. To do so, we reconstruct the response of the AMOC to a selection of abrupt transitions in climate that occurred in the past. This will allow us to identify triggers and thresholds that cause an abrupt change.

Principle Investigator(s): Dr Audrey Morley
More info: Conference paper abstract
Funded by: iCRAG/SFI

Coastal Flooding and Erosion: Post-Storm Recovery of Beach-Dune Systems

This long-term field-based monitoring coastal project measures the impact of storms on beach-dune systems in Ireland. It documents the response of our coastline to storms, which is critical in order to assess the resilience of our beaches and coastal dune systems - especially as they are the first line of defence against storm surge and support diverse habitats that are unique to Ireland.

Principle Investigator(s): Dr Eugene FarrellDr. Kevin Lynch
More info: RTE: Eco Eye / Community Group link: Maharees Conservation Society 
Funded by: Office of Public Works

From Source-To-Sink: The response and recovery of coastal catchment ecosystems to large perturbations

This multidisciplinary research measures the response of a small coastal catchment to extreme events in order to assess the resilience of the Irish landscape to both short- (event scale) and long-term (climate change) drivers of change.

Principle Investigator(s): Dr Eugene Farrell, Dr. Kevin Lynch, Dr Terry Morley, Dr. Tiernan Henry (EOS), Dr Mary Bourke (TCD), Dr Jonathan Turner (UCD), Dr Barry O'Dwyer (UCC).
More info: https://epacoastalproject.wordpress.com
Funded by: EPA

Modelling maerl habitat dynamics in response to increased storminess

Maerl (rhodolith) beds are unique, relatively rare, free-living, non-geniculate coralline red algae forming biodiverse habitats and dense biogenic debris beaches. Fieldwork on Trá an Doilín maerl beach in Carraroe, County Galway to monitor the morphodynamic change in the intertidal swash zone has taken place. The impact of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenarios on the regional coupled hydrodynamic wave- morphodynamic model are made to quantify possible impacts of climate change on maerl.

Principle Investigator(s): Dr Siddhi Joshi
Co-Investigator:  Dr Eugene Farrell