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changing climate

Ireland has become warmer across all seasons in the last 30 years

Levels of sunshine and rainfall have both increased over time.

AVERAGE TEMPERATURES WERE higher in the last 30 years than the 30 before across all seasons of the year, according to new figures released by Met Éireann.

Between 1991 and 2020, mean temperatures were higher throughout the country for spring, summer, autumn and winter than they were between 1961 and 1990.

Levels of sunshine and rainfall both increased, with some counties experiencing a more notable jump in rainfall than others, particularly in the north and west of the country.

The highest rate of temperature rise was in May, when average temperatures rose by 1 degree Celsius, followed by 0.9 degrees in February, April and November.

The smallest rise was in October at 0.2 degrees and December at 0.3 Others months showed a rise of between 0.6 to 0.8.

Overall, average temperatures were 0.7 degrees higher between 1991 and 2020 than in the previous 30-year period. 

Although the figure may appear minor, changes in long-term temperature averages of just a couple of degrees have the capacity to inflict major impacts.

In 2015, countries agreed to try to limit global warming to 1.5 or two degrees above pre-industrial levels – a rate of warming at which changes will still be noticed to the climate system but not to as dire an extent that warming of three or four degrees would bring. However, if greenhouse gas emissions are not significantly and rapidly reduced, scientific models indicate that the rate of temperature rise by the end of the century is likely to blow past the 2-degree mark.

“We know that the atmosphere is warming and what we’re seeing at the local and national scale fits the international picture,” said Met Éireann Climatologist and Project Lead Mary Curley.

“The publication of Ireland’s most recent climate averages allows us to assess how Ireland’s current climate compares to the previous 30-year period. We know that the atmosphere is warming and what we’re seeing at the local and national scale fits the international picture,” Curley said.

“Importantly, the data provides information about typical climate conditions for a particular location and is a crucial benchmark for weather and climate conditions. This serves as an important resource for Government and relevant stakeholders to enable informed decision making to benefit society,” she said.

“While these averages give us an up-to-date baseline to compare our current and future weather to, it’s important to remember that weather patterns can vary significantly from year to year.”

Hours of sunshine increased around 5% between the two time periods, adding another 63 sunny hours.

However, average annual rainfall rose by around 3-6% in the east of the country and around 6-12% in the west and north, or 7% nationwide.

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