Saturday 20 January 2018

It's getting warmer and wetter but south-east is still sunniest

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Ireland is getting wetter and warmer, and the sunny south-east is living up to its name.

An analysis of average temperatures over the past 30 years by Met Eireann shows that Wexford and Waterford enjoy more sunshine, higher average temperatures and less rainfall than the rest of the country.

The new research shows that Ireland's climate is getting wetter -- with an average of 5pc more rain falling between 1981 and 2010 than between 1960 and 1991, Met Eireann said. In some places rainfall increased by up to 10pc.

The country is also getting warmer, with average temperatures increasing by 0.5C over the past 30 years.

'A Summary of Climate Averages for Ireland 1981-2010', published yesterday, analysed sunshine, rainfall and wind speed data from more than 700 weather stations across the country to produce 'average' figures for each month.

It shows the wettest parts of the country are along the western seaboard -- Mayo, Donegal, Galway, Kerry and parts of Cork are worst hit with the amount of rain up 10pc, compared with just 2pc in the south east.

Valentia Observatory in Co Kerry recorded the equivalent a month's extra rainfall in the period between 1981 and 2010, compared with 1961 and 1990.

Senior Climatologist with Met Eireann, Seamus Walsh, said that up until now, the period 1961-1990 had been used to tell if the weather was wetter or warmer than average. From now on, the period 1981 to 2010 will be used.

An analysis of weather between 1931 and 1960 had not been carried out, because the information was not readily available, meaning that experts can only compare weather patterns over the past 50 years.

But he said that people should not be too concerned about the increase in rainfall, saying it was because of the "variability" of our climate. Wet summers in recent years, coupled with winter flooding, would result in higher averages.

"It's not clear that the increase in rainfall is a trend that's going to continue," he said. "Between 1961 and 1990 could have been a dry 30-year period. Very wet summers in the noughties contributed to the increases in rainfall."

The data shows that spring and summer months are significantly warmer today than in the 1961-1990 period -- up 0.7C. Rainfall is up between 2pc and 10pc.

The rise in temperature was described as "significant" by Met Eireann head of forecasting Gerald Fleming, who said it was in line with projections which showed a global temperature increase of up to 7C by the end of the century.

"When you look at long-term averages, 0.5C is a lot," he said. "If you look at what they are saying about a rise in temperature by the end of the century, an increase of 0.5C in a 30-year period is quite significant.

"How you explain that can be argued. Is it man-made? My own belief and understanding, and that of the vast majority of meteorologists working in this area, is we are living in a changing climate and it's getting warmer. There was a belief before that the climate didn't change but we now know that's not the case. "

The data also shows:

• The mean annual average temperature is 9-10C, and there has been a rise in temperatures across all seasons, but especially in spring and summer.

• The summer is the warmest season, followed by autumn, spring and winter.

• On average, spring is drier than the summer.

• The coldest months are January and February, followed by December, while the warmest are July, August and June.

The US Met Office published its 1981-2010 data at the end of last year, which showed average temperature rises of 0.5C. The UK is expected to publish its updated analysis in the coming weeks.

The data will be used by agencies including the Office of Public Works to plan flood defences and by local authorities to decide where to source water supplies.

Irish Independent

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