Flooding from Storm Babet in Glandore PA
Warmer and Wetter

New research finds climate change is 'evident' in Ireland's weather records

Average temperatures and rainfall intensity have increased over decades, researchers at Maynooth University have found.

NEW RESEARCH HAS documented how average temperatures have risen in Ireland over the last 170 years since modern records began.

Researchers at Maynooth University analysed Irish temperature and rainfall records and identified “clear evidence” that human activities are changing Ireland’s climate.

The study found that the island of Ireland is warming at a rate of 0.88 degrees Celsius for every one degree increase in global temperature, with annual temperatures now in territory that is “unfamiliar” relative to early industrial climate.

Scientists expect that long-term increases in averages temperatures by a margin of just a couple of degrees will be enough to cause devastating impacts, which some parts of the world are already experiencing more acutely than others.

Additionally, on average, rainfall intensity in Ireland is increasing at a rate of 8.2% per degree of global warming, the Maynooth research found.

Many weather stations across the country have experienced substantial increases in winter rainfall per degree of global warming.

The study noted that the increase in rainfall as temperatures rise indicates a “heightened flood risk with continued warming”.

Of the 30 rainfall stations that were analysed, one-third showed increases in rainfall intensity (heavy rainfall that can cause surface flooding, particularly in urban areas) and were ‘unusual’ relative to early industrial climate.

Professor Conor Murphy of Maynooth University’s Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units (Icarus) said the findings show that “human driven climate change is now discernible in Irish weather records”.

“Of the 903 climate indicators we analysed across the study, 37% show the emergence of conditions we would consider at least ‘unusual’ relative to early industrial or natural climate,” Professor Murphy explained.

“These results clearly tell us that adaptation to the impacts of climate change needs to be given greater emphasis in national and local climate policy.

Climate change is here, and it is evident in our weather observations.

“It also gives us a new tool that allows local scale changes in climate to be scaled to global mean surface temperature, providing insight into how past, and importantly future changes, at the global scale relate to Ireland,” he said.

Earlier this year, analysis by Met Éireann found Ireland’s average temperatures were higher between 1991 and 2020 than they were in the previous 30-year period of 1961 and 1990. 

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