Margaret Desmond, Phillip O'Brien and Frank McGovern of the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Climate, Licensing and Resources paint a revealing picture of how our climate has already changed and is likely to change in the future.
An observed mean annual temperature increase of 0.8°C has been documented between 1900 and 2011 and that is projected to increase to 1-1.6°C by 2050.
The number of warm days was increased, and the number of frost days was decreased. It is projected that there will be an increased frequency of heatwaves and a decrease of 50% in the number of frost days by 2050.
An increase in mean annual rainfall has been recorded. It is projected that while winter rainfall will increase, there will be a decrease of up to 20% in summer rainfall by 2050 and a 35% increase in extended dry periods. That will result in much increased river flow in winter and much decreased flow in summer.
Fewer more intense storms are projected.
An increase of 0.8°C in sea surface temperature has been recorded since 1982. That trend is predicted to continue. Coupled with increases in mean temperature, seawater is becoming more acid and that trend is also projected to continue.
Sea level is rising by 3.4mm per year so it is projected that sea level will be higher by an estimated 25-44cm by 2080.
Significant wave heights have increased by 20cm per decade since 1950. Surge events are likely to increase by an estimated 9mm per year.
The combined impact of all these changes on biodiversity is going to be severe. There are several clear indications that significant change is already underway. Warnings abound and alarm bells ring out all around. To enthusiastic applause, President Michael D Higgins put it rather well recently when he addressed Ireland's first National Biodiversity Conference in Dublin Castle: 'If we were coal miners, we would be up to our knees in dead canaries'.
To address the warnings and respond to the alarm bells regarding the loss of our biodiversity, the government has published a draft of Ireland's Biodiversity Sectoral Climate Change Adaptation Plan. The 69-page draft plan in available online and is open for public consultation until 17 April 2019. Guidelines are available to assist those who wish to make a submission.
Full details may be accessed at www.npws.ie under the 'News and Events' tab on the homepage of the National Parks and Wildlife Service website.