Ireland is “warmer and wetter” as a result of climate change

12 August 2021 

Ireland’s climate has become warmer and wetter as a result of rising greenhouse gas emissions, a new report has found. 

The Status of Ireland’s Climate published today by the Environmental Protection Agency, Met Eireann and the Marine Institute revealed a number of key findings, including that the average temperature in Ireland has risen by 0.9 C over the past 120 years and that annual precipitation had increased by 6 per cent between 1989 and 2018. 

Additionally, the report found that the concentration of greenhouse gases, which are driving these aforementioned trends, have continued to increase since 2012 and will have “long-term implications for our climate.” 

Sea level has also risen by approximately 2 to 3 milimetres each year since 1990 on Irish shores and ocean acidity in Irish waters is comparable to the rate of change in oceans the worldover, the report also said. 

According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report issued on Monday, sea level is projected to continue to rise for the rest of the century, however by what exact height is to be determined by future emission pathways. 

Ocean acidification is a process by which seawater becomes more acidic by absorbing carbon dioxide. It also leads to less carbonate ions in the ocean, which are crucial for sea shells and coral skeletons to build their exterior. 

Certain sea-shelled creatures, like clams, are natural carbon sinks as they remove carbon dioxide from the sea by mineralising it.

Long-term climate monitoring programmes like these are needed to “provide the evidence required to support national climate policy and action”, according to the Marine Institute’s Interim CEO Mick Gillooly. 

“It is through sustainable long term monitoring networks that we can measure the current state of our climate, and how much it has changed by, which in turn gives us an indication of how much more it is likely to change by into the future,” he said. 

Ireland to look drastically different by mid-century 

According to a super-computer generated projection done in September by the Irish Centre for High-End Computing, Ireland’s climate will dramatically change by 2050. 

Annual average temperatures could climb as high as 1.6 C above pre-industrial levels by mid-century and more frequent heat waves will occur as a result. 

Rainfall is projected to decrease substantially in the summer months and could decline by as much as 17 per cent if the world follows a high-emission trajectory. 

Winter and autumn are expected to see a likely increase of precipitation between 5 and 19 per cent.

About the Author

Kayle Crosson