Saturday 24 February 2018

Drier summers but wetter winters on the way for Ireland

Fergus Black

IRELAND is getting hotter, with drier summers and wetter winters on the way.

Despite another atrocious summer, the country is warming up at a faster rate than the global average.

But it will become much wetter with rainfall amounts in the autumn and winter set to increase by up to 25pc by the end of the century, a climate change conference was told yesterday.

Migrating birds arriving earlier, leaves emerging on trees earlier each year, rising sea levels and climate change leading to the spread of animal disease were just some of the warning signs highlighted at the three-day TCD international conference on climate change, which opened in Dublin yesterday.

While we have suffered another exceptionally bad summer -- with the wettest August in some parts of the country since 1837 -- weather expert Ray McGrath of Met Eireann said there was no guarantee next summer would be as bad and it could well turn out to be a spectacular one.

But some significant changes were already happening, and rainfall amounts and temperatures would continue to rise.

"We are warming at a rate faster than the global average and that is consistent with climate change," he said.

The climate would continue to warm, rising by a substantial 3.5 degrees by the end of the century, with the greatest warming in the south east.

However, there's more rain on the way and while the summers will become drier, rainfall amounts are set to rise by up to 10pc by 2060 and by 15pc to 25pc by the end of the century.

Sea levels were continuing to rise at the rate of 3.5cm per decade and the trend, along with rising sea temperatures, will increase the risk of flooding and storm surges, especially along the west and east coasts.

Mr McGrath also warned climate change could see the spread of animal diseases, and that the blue tongue virus which hit the UK this year was likely to reach Ireland at some stage.

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