Evidence of climate change is 'clearer than ever'
Evidence of climate change in Ireland is "clearer and more compelling" than ever before with rising temperatures, more rainfall and rises in sea level recorded.
An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report says climate change will continue to affect all sectors of the economy, and warns there are "uncertainties" as to whether global action will be sufficient to curb the worst effects.
The lead author of 'A Summary of the State of Knowledge on Climate Change Impacts for Ireland', Dr Margaret Desmond from UCC, said projections indicated that changes would continue but there was "uncertainty" as to how they would affect Ireland.
"The evidence that Ireland is being impacted by global climate change is now clearer and more compelling," she said. "The projections of future climate change across all scenarios suggest that changes will continue, but uncertainties on details of these for countries such as Ireland remain large. Uncertainties also exist with respect to the effectiveness of global actions to address climate change."
The report finds:
Average temperatures have increased by 0.8C since 1900, and are expected to rise by 1C to 1.6C by mid-century. The highest increases will be in the east. All seasons are warmer than the 1961-1990 average, and are expected to be "significantly warmer" by 2050;
Average annual rainfall rose 5pc or 60mm between 1981 and 2010, with the highest increases in the west. Drier summer conditions are likely;
There will be fewer storms, but they will be more intense. Winter flooding has increased between 1954-2008. Between 350-600sqkm of coastal areas and floodplains are vulnerable to being inundated with saltwater;
Sea level continues to rise, up 3.5cm per decade since the early 1990s compared with 1-2cm per decade before 1990. Increases of up to 60cm are forecast, which will amplify storm surges and wave erosion on coastlines.
Climate Change Minister Denis Naughten said people were already being affected, with almost 70 families seeking to be relocated from their homes due to repeated flooding.
EPA director general Laura Burke said measures were under way to reduce emissions, but "significantly more" was needed. She added that communicating the science and risks to the wider public was vital.