Ireland must adapt to climate change

Ireland's climate is already changing with more severe extremes set to come and the country must do more to protect itself from the negative impacts while making the most of opportunities that might present themselves.

This is the message at the core of a new report published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which outlines the latest predictions for the country’s climate over the next century.

The report Climate Change in Ireland: Refining the Impacts for Ireland takes an in depth, region by region look at the latest predictions and while the central theme – hotter, drier summers and more frequent extreme weather events – will come as a surprise to no-one, the detail makes for some enlightening reading.

Laura Burke, director of the Office of Climate, Licensing and Resource Use, EPA, said: “Climate projections such as those provided in this report enable us to assess potential impacts, plan and take actions to avoid the worst of these, and if possible to utilise positive changes.”

The projections are in line with earlier reports provided by the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM) and Met Eireann, but are based on outputs from a wide range of global climate models, thereby increasing confidence in the projections.

They suggest that:

  • Average temperatures will rise by 1.4oC to 1.8oC by 2050, and be in excess of 2oC relative to the 1961-1990 baseline by the end of the century.
  • Summer and autumn are projected to warm faster than winter and spring, with the midlands and east warming more than coastal areas.
  • Winter rainfall is projected to increase by 10 per cent, while reductions in summer rainfall of 12 to 17 per cent are projected by 2050.
  • The largest winter rainfall increases are expected to occur in the midlands.
  • By 2050, reductions in summer rainfall of between 20 and 28 per cent are projected for the southern and eastern coasts, increasing to between 30 and 40 per cent by 2080.
  • Changes in the frequency of extreme events will accompany these climate changes. Longer heat waves and drought may occur, which will be especially important for eastern and southern parts of Ireland.
  • Sam Bond

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