The Marine Institute's research vessel, Celtic Explorer, is beginning a trans-Atlantic voyage to study the impact of climate change on the ocean.

The ship will be home to a team of international scientists from six countries for the journey from Newfoundland to Galway.

During the trip, the researchers will investigate carbon dioxide levels in a transect of the Atlantic, to see if they have changed over the past two decades.

Carbon dioixide accumulates in the sea, causing it to warm and leading to ocean acidification that can be extremely damaging to marine life.

The project comes under the Global Oceans Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigations Program (GO-SHIP), a systematic global survey involving 16 countries and labs.

Among the institutions involved in the trip are the Marine Institute and National University of Ireland, Galway, GEOMAR from Germany, the University of Exeter, Dalhousie University & Fisheries and Oceans in Canada, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution & Columbia University from the US and Aarhus University, Denmark.

Those behind the project say the part of the Atlantic under examination is a dynamic area for heat transport, making it important for understanding the changing climate.

The Celtic Explorer leaves Newfoundland today and should be back in Galway by 23 May.