Monday, March 24, 2008

Changing climate will mean more floods and droughts in Ireland

The Independent (Ireland), reported by Allison Bray: Ireland will have wetter winters and dry, hot summers, according to Met Eireann's first climate-modelling survey. Rising sea temperatures will also cause more intense weather systems that will affect the north of the country while the west coast will be hit with larger waves and storm surges. There will be fewer but stronger storms.

Environment Minister John Gormley is to begin work next month on a long term plan to combat the impact of climate change on Ireland after publication of the report. Met Eireann's report spells out major changes to our weather over the next century. Average temperatures will increase by between 1C and 1.4C by 2050 and as much as 3C to 3.5C by 2100 sparking major changes in our climate. Rainfall will increase in the winter and decrease in the summer. This could lead to a combination of flooding in coastal areas and droughts and water shortages in the south and east, especially Dublin. Wetter conditions are expected in the north and west.

The survey, prepared by the climate section of Met Eireann and researchers at University College Dublin, predicts that winter rainfall will increase by at least 5pc and perhaps as much as 10pc between 2020 and 2060, and by as much as 25pc by the end of the century. Summer rainfall is expected to decrease up to 10pc by 2050 and as much as 18pc by 2100. Winds are also predicted to increase slightly in the winter and decrease in the summer.

The report was compiled using new climate modelling technology. "We are looking at a reasonably significant climate change," said an official at Met Eireann. "We know our climate is getting warmer, but what this tells us is that the brunt of it will be borne by the south and east of the country."

Mr Gormley said the Government must act now to develop an action plan involving his department and local authorities. "It's an issue for which my department will be developing a national adaptation plan over the next 12 months," he said. "It's important that all agencies and local authorities begin to include climate-change adaptation in all medium and long-term planning. "We need to begin to make the necessary plans now."

Photo of the southern coast of Ireland by Lea Maimone, Wikimedia Commons

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