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Gormley launches C4I study on future of Irish Climate

10 Jun 2008

Mr John Gormley TD Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government today Tuesday 10th June 2008 launched the report Ireland in a Warmer World: Scientific Predictions of the Irish Climate in the Twenty-First Century."

"This report is yet another stark reminder of the realities and the challenges of climate change. It shows categorically that our climate will continue to warm, particularly in the summer and autumn seasons. It also indicates possible temperature increases of 3 to 4˚C towards the end of the century and the greatest warming will occur in the south and east of the country," said Minister Gormley.

The report describes Ireland's changing climate, based on a comprehensive series of computer simulations with regional climate models. The computations were carried out by the C4I team of scientists at Met Éireann and at the UCD Meteorology & Climate Centre.

Minister Gormley said: "The report shows that while we may enjoy higher temperatures, Ireland will not escape significant negative impacts from climate change, including increased storms, water shortages in some parts of the country, and flooding in other areas."

"The report also underlines the fact that Ireland, like every other country in the world, is reliant on a new world deal on climate change, to combat the worst impacts of climate change."

He added: "We also must begin work at home on making the necessary adaptation plans to deal with climate change. A national adaptation strategy is being worked on in my department, and a number of local authorities are also working on their own adaptation plans. Planning for the impacts of climate change will have to become an integral part of our development planning here in Ireland, at a local and national level."

The Community Climate Change Consortium for Ireland (C4I) project was supported and co-funded by Environmental Protection Agency, Sustainable Energy Ireland and the Higher Education Authority with resources provided by the Irish Government's National Development Plan (NDP) 2000-2006. The work was also supported by Met Éireann and by the CosmoGrid project, the latter funded under the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI) administered by the Higher Education Authority under the National Development Plan and with partial support from the European Regional Development Fund.


"The report has a lot of technical detail but one finding has caught my eye, the uncertainty in regional climate predictions, particularly for future rainfall. We can never completely remove the uncertainty but we can reduce it by further research. This is a challenging and ongoing process but it is an essential strategy for supporting Ireland's climate mitigation and adaptation policies," added Minister Gormley.

"As I have said on many occasions climate change poses mankind with many challenges and difficulties. In order to meet these challenges we need to change the way we go about our day-to-day business, we need to change how we do business and finally we need to fixate on how we can become less dependent on carbon based fuels. Reports such as this are very useful tools in highlighting the future impacts of climate change and the hardships that it certainly will bring," concluded Minister Gormley.

Summary of Report - Key Results

- The climate will continue to warm, particularly in the summer and autumn seasons: possible increases of 3 to 4ºC towards the end of the century. The greatest warming will occur in the south and east of the country.

- Autumn and winter seasons will become wetter: increases in the range 15-25% towards the end of the century. Summers will become drier: 10-18% decrease towards the end of the century. Regional details remain elusive, due to the large uncertainty in local projections.

- Mean windspeeds are not expected to change significantly over the coming decades, but there is likely to be an overall reduction in strengths towards the end of the century, particularly in summer (4-5%).

- The frequency of very intense cyclones affecting Ireland is likely to increase.

- The seas around Ireland have been warming at the rate of 0.3-0.4ºC per decade since the 1980s; over the Irish Sea a greater warming has been observed (0.6-0.7ºC per decade).The trends are consistent with what has been observed globally and are predicted to continue over the coming decades.

- Sea levels are rising on average about 3.5 cm per decade around Ireland.

- Ocean modelling results indicate an increase in the frequency of storm surge events around Irish coastal areas; in the northwest the increase in surge heights between 50 and 100 cm is around 30% by mid century. Extreme wave heights are also likely to increase in most regions.

- Changes in precipitation and temperature are likely to lead to a rise in winter stream flows (increasing the risk of flooding), and a reduction in summer flows.

- Changes in the climate may impede the recovery of the ozone layer; together with a warmer climate, there may be negative health consequences due to a greater exposure to UV radiation.

- Demand for heating energy is likely to reduce significantly as the climate warms.

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