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Met Éireann staff advised to say Irish summers could get drier due to climate change

The latest projections suggested there might be fewer storms – but that the ones that do come would be worse.

The Vico Bathing Place in Dublin.
The Vico Bathing Place in Dublin.
Image: Leon Farrell

STAFF AT MET Éireann were advised to say Ireland could expect more frequent hotter, drier summers as the impacts of climate change are felt here.

Advisories said we could also expect more weather records to be broken with severe storms becoming more likely.

However, the latest climate model projections suggested there might be a decreased number of storms – but that the ones that do come would be worse.

The details are contained in two advisories to staff over the past year on what to say about unusual or extreme weather events in Ireland.

A very dry spring in 2020 during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic was out of the ordinary and sparked multiple questions to Met Éireann.

Advice from a senior climatologist to colleagues said: “This year (2020), Ireland experienced a very wet February and a very dry spring.

Because of our location Ireland gets quite variable weather year to year. A detailed analysis is required to scientifically determine what influence global warming has played on the recent weather.

“However, we would expect to see more frequent hotter, drier summers as we move towards mid-century.”

As the country was battered by Storm Ellen last summer, wind speed and low-pressure records for August were broken.

At Roche’s Point in Cork, the highest mean wind speed over ten minutes was recorded with winds of 111km/hour, shattering the old record of 83km/hour set nearly fifty years ago.

Low pressure records were also broken in Athenry, Galway breaking a record that had been set in 1959.

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An email to staff from a senior climatologist said: “As our climate continues to change, we expect more weather records to be broken.

The latest climate model projections for Ireland suggest possible decrease in the frequency of storms affecting Ireland by mid-century, but a likely increase in the severity of the storms that do.

Later emails said another long-standing August record had almost been broken when a gust of 143km/hour was recorded at Roche’s Point in Cork.

It was just one km/hour short of the actual record, which was set in Claremorris, Co Mayo in 1999.

There were also widespread mean wind speeds exceeding 80km/hour and widespread gusts in excess of 130km/hour, both fully meriting a “red warning” according to emails released under FOI.

Asked to comment on the records, Met Éireann said they had nothing to add to them.

About the author:

Ken Foxe

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