Wednesday 26 July 2017

'Normal' seasonal weather is now a thing of the past

Walkers watch the big waves this month in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Walkers watch the big waves this month in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin. Photo: Justin Farrelly

Gavin White

Normal seasonal weather is "a thing of the past" according to a climate change professor at Oxford University.

Professor Myles Allen is part of a project in collaboration with University College Cork, the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The CLIMATT project will look at extreme weather in Ireland and identify the impact of climate change here.

"Normal weather, unchanged over generations, is a thing of the past," Prof Allen said.

"We are going to have to use climate simulations to work out what the weather will be like, and how the infrastructure should be applied to manage the weather in the next 50 years."

Professor Allen said we can now begin to understand and react to major weather events using his data collection techniques.

He was able to illustrate that the 2012 UK floodings were directly influenced by climate change.

Also working with Prof Allen is Dr Paul Leahy, a specialist in sustainable energy research at UCC and the project leader.

"It's about seeing events like the fodder crisis and looking to see if they're more likely in the future," he said.

"We'll examine specific extreme weather events and the likelihood that climate change effected them."

Dr Leahy said "drier summers which would lead to droughts, water shortages and farming" could be on the horizon.

"It may also lead to hotter weather with higher daily maximum temperatures and with CLIMATT we hope to point to the specifics as it progresses.

"We've noticed this over the last couple of decades and also with increased rainfall in winters," he said.

Dr Leahy said with the help of the data collected by Prof Allen "we can calculate if any or all of our extreme weather events in Ireland are as a result of climate change and recommend measures to protect against future extreme weather events."

Meanwhile, as Storm Doris is expected to hit Ireland tonight, motorists have been warned to take extra care driving in adverse conditions.

Read more: 'Slow down and be aware of debris' - Warning issued to motorists as Storm Doris hits Ireland tonight

AA Roadwatch's Arwen Foley said that with Storm Doris expected to bring very wet and windy weather motorists should "slow down and stay a safe distance from the vehicle in front".

She also warned motorists to "beware of wind-blown debris which may obstruct your view or block the road ahead and remember that high-sided vehicles are particularly vulnerable on open or exposed roads".

Met Éireann forecaster Jean Byrne said thankfully Ireland looks set to avoid the strongest wind from Storm Doris.

A yellow weather warning has been issued with gusts of up to 80kmh expected.

"There will be a risk of some possible damage along the south and west coasts," she said. "We have issued a yellow warning but that is not as bad as an orange or red warning.

"We certainly will not be experiencing the same strength of winds that are being forecast in Britain."

Irish Independent

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