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Climate Change

Ireland has hottest May on record as world sees 12th consecutive month with warmest average

In Ireland, Met Éireann recorded an average temperature of 13.08 degrees Celsius in May 2024.

LAST UPDATE | 5 Jun

LAST MONTH WAS the warmest May on record for both Ireland and the world.

Globally, May was the 12th month in a row that was the warmest month of its kind of modern records, marking a full year of record-breaking average temperatures that signal the growing threat of climate change.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service’s (CS3) monitoring found that May 2024 was the warmest May on record globally, with a global average air temperature 0.65 degrees Celsius above the 1991–2020 average.

Weather data collected by Met Éireann from across Ireland shows May 2024 had an average temperature of 13.08 degrees Celsius. That’s 2.53 degrees above the 1961-1990 long term average and 1.74 degrees above the 1991-2020 long-term average for May.

The warm May conditions were driven in particular by milder than usual nighttime temperatures, according to Met Éireann.

It was also only the second time in the 125 years on record that the average temperature for May in Ireland exceeded 13 degrees.

The previous warmest May was May 2008, which saw an average monthly temperature of 13.03 degrees Celsius. In contrast, the coldest May was 102 years ago in May 1923 with an average temperature of 8.67 degrees.

2023 was a year of record-breaking heat across the world as climate change drives up average global temperatures, destabilises weather patterns, and causes more frequent and more intense extreme weather events like heatwaves and storms.

Temperature increases of just one or two degrees above average may seem minor, but in fact, even seemingly small variations in temperature can have major implications if sustained.

Countries across the world promised under the Paris Agreement in 2015 to try to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees – or at the very least, no more than two degrees – compared to the pre-industrial period.

However, scientists expect the world is on track to see warming closer to three degrees by the end of the century.

Humans urgently need to significantly reduce the volume of greenhouse gases that we emit into the atmosphere through activities like burning fossil fuels and methane-heavy agriculture.

image004 (1) CS3 CS3

Reacting to the global findings, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said today that “for the past year, every turn of the calendar has turned up the heat”.

“Our planet is trying to tell us something. But we don’t seem to be listening,” Guterres said.

“We’re shattering global temperature records and reaping the whirlwind. It’s climate crunch time. Now is the time to mobilise, act and deliver.”

new-delhi-india-may-31-residents-and-children-fill-water-from-a-delhi-jal-board-djb-water-tanker-amid-a-water-crisis-amid-the-summer-months-at-vivekananda-camp-chanakyapuri-on-may-31-2024-in-n People wait in blazing heat in New Delhi, India to fill containers with water amid shortages. 31 May 2024 Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Guterres also called for a ban on fossil fuel advertising. 

He noted that many governments “restrict or prohibit advertising for products that harm human health – like tobacco”.

In a post on X, he “urged” every country to “do the same with fossil fuel companies by banning their advertising”.

“And I urge news media and tech companies to stop taking fossil fuel advertising,” he added.

Guterres also delivered a speech today from the American Museum of Natural History in New York in a bid to revive focus on climate change.

“Climate change is the mother of all stealth taxes paid by everyday people and vulnerable countries and communities,” he said.

“Meanwhile, the godfathers of climate chaos, the fossil fuel industry, rake in record profits and feast off trillions in taxpayer-funded subsidies.”

Ireland

The latest monthly climate statement from Met Éireann details that May 2024 was very mild but also quite dull overall.

“Weak steering currents aloft brought a mixture of slow-moving areas of high and low pressure over the country in a mostly slack airflow. Rainfall totals were mixed with a few active weather fronts and some intense thundery downpours giving higher totals in the South and parts of the Midlands while the East and Northwest had a relatively dry month,” the weather agency said.

All average air temperatures at weather stations across the country were above their long-term average for the month.

Deviations from mean air temperature ranged from 1.1 degrees (12.7 degrees mean temperature) at Mace Head, Co Galway to 2.9 degrees (13.6 degrees the month’s highest mean temperature) at Phoenix Park in Co Dublin, which saw its warmest May in the 125 years on record.

Three stations had their highest mean maximum temperature for May on record and fourteen stations had their highest mean minimum for May on record.

This indicates, Met Éireann said, that night-time temperatures were particularly high during May 2024, which helped to increase the overall mean temperatures.

However, all available monthly sunshine totals were below their long-term average, with some seeing the dullest May since 2014.

The majority of monthly rainfall totals across the country were below their 1981-2010 long-term average.

Worldwide

The global average temperature for May 2024 was 1.52°C above the 1850–1900 pre-industrial average, which makes it the eleventh consecutive month (since July 2023) at or above 1.5 degrees of temperature rise.

Additionally, the global average temperature for the last 12 months from June 2023 to May 2024 is the highest on record, at 0.75 degrees above the 1991–2020 average and 1.63 degrees above the 1850–1900 pre-industrial average. 

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C3S Director Carlo Buontempo said it is “shocking but not surprising that we have reached this 12-month streak” of record-breaking average temperatures.

“While this sequence of record-breaking months will eventually be interrupted, the overall signature of climate change remains and there is no sign in sight of a change in such a trend,” he said.

We are living in unprecedented times, but we also have unprecedented skill in monitoring the climate and this can help inform our actions.

“This string of hottest months will be remembered as comparatively cold but if we manage to stabilise the concentrations of GHGs in the atmosphere in the very near future we might be able to return to these ‘cold’ temperatures by the end of the century.” 

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