RTE One 8.30PM, Thursday, July 12, 2012

Our environment has probably the biggest influence on our health and well-being, but it’s a two-way process and it’s vital that we understand, respect and monitor the world around us. We investigate Irish developments for growing blight-resistant crops, look at technologies for monitoring our hugely important marine resources, and ask how controlled changes in the environment of plants could offer new insights into the consequences of climate change.

Part 1 : Weather Chamber

UCD have created six “weather chambers” which can be used to simulate climate environments from millions of years ago into the future. It’s the only place in the world where we can look at how measuring the responses of living plants to controlled changes in experimental environments (CO2, SO2 and O2 levels) can help us make more sense of the fossil record from previous mass extinctions, and possibly identify ways in which we could help mitigate the effects of climate change now.

Part 2 : Potato Genome

Ireland’s relationship with the potato has been a long and complex one. It is fitting perhaps that 2 Irish researchers featured strongly on the international team which mapped the complete potato genome – the results of which made the front cover of Nature magazine. Dan Milbourne is mining this invaluable genetic information to help develop new blight resistant varieties which could help greatly in preventing disease and assist in the ever worsening global food shortage problem.

Part 3 : LOFAR Telescope

Peter Gallagher from TCD has recently secured part-funding for the development of a project to build a huge radio telescope called LOFAR in the grounds of Birr Castle. The telescope will form part of a wider network of European radio telescope which will allow us to study a huge range of objects in the Universe, from exploding stars, to colliding galaxies, to the early evolution of the Universe.

Part 4 : Water Quality Monitoring

Along with air, water is the most essential element in our daily lives. We look at Irish efforts to develop and test sensor devices and networks for real time water quality monitoring, and speak to scientists at DCU who are working with industry to develop new products and services to enhance and manage our marine resources.