Analysis of the meteorological records by the Environmental Protection Authority shows that Ireland’s climate is changing in line with global patterns.
The clearest trend is evident in the temperature records which show a mean temperature increase of 0.7o C between 1890 and 2008, i.e. an increase of 0.06o C per decade. The increase was 0.4o C during the period 1980-2008, i.e. equivalent to 0.14o C per decade.
- Ireland’s mean annual temperature increased by 0.7 degrees celcius (°C) between 1890 and 2004.
- The average rate of increase is 0.06°C per decade. However, as Ireland experiences considerable climate variability, the trend is not linear.
- The highest ten-yearly rates of increase have occurred since 1980, with a warming rate of 0.42°C per decade.
- Six of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 1990. Our climate will continue to warm with possible increases of 3º to 4ºC towards the end of the century.
- There has been a reduction in the number of frost days and a shortening of the frost season length.
- The annual precipitation has increased on the north and west coasts, with decreases or small increases in the south and east.
An increase in annual rainfall in northern and western areas with decreases or small increases in the south and east.
These changes are reflected in Ireland’s natural environment with an increase in the growing season and with greater number of animals suited to warmer temperatures being evident in Ireland and its surrounding waters.
Climate change impacts are projected to increase in the coming decades and during the rest of this century. Uncertainties remain in relation to the scale and extent of these impacts, particularly during the second half of the century. The greatest uncertainly lies in how effective global actions will be in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Predicted adverse impacts include:
- sea level rise,
- more intense storms and rainfall events,
- increased likelihood and magnitude of river and coastal flooding and
- water shortages in summer in the east
- adverse impacts on water quality
- changes in distribution of plant and animal species
- effects on fisheries sensitive to changes in temperature