Tag Archives: United States Environmental Protection Agency

Thinking about Climate Change in Ireland

One global climate model's reconstruction of t...

A barrage of emails has me thinking about climate change in Ireland, what we can expect, and more importantly, what we might do about it right now. And I'm not thinking about recycling. I'm thinking about policy responses centered around forward planning, a sort of flanking move on the most likely effects of climate change.

What's most likely to happen to us?

Ireland's Scale

First, It's important to note that one of the key numbers here is 2 degrees. A 2 degree increase in mean monthly temperatures, with a carbon measurement of between 500-550 parts per million, is about the median estimate of what we'll see happening to the Irish climate. Right now we're looking at 400 parts per million in the Irish atmosphere, most of the time. Another important number is 5 degrees increase over the next 100 years. It's game over time if that happens, we're talking global catastrophe.

ICARUS issued a report on the likely effects of climate change in Ireland, and here's what they had to say:

  • Current mean January figures are predicted to increase by 1.5oC mid century with a further increase of 0.5oC-1.0oC by 2075.
  • By 2055, the extreme south and south west coasts may have a mean January temperature of 7.5-8.0oC. By then, winters in Northern Ireland and in the north Midlands will be similar to those presently experienced along the south coast.
  • Since temperature is a primary meteorological parameter, secondary parameters such as frost frequency and growing season length and efficiency can be expected to undergo considerable changes over this time interval.
  • July temperatures will increase by 2.5oC by 2055 and a further increase of 1.0oC by 2075 can be expected. Maximum July temperatures in the order of 22.5oC will prevail generally with areas in the central Midlands experiencing maximum July temperatures of 24.5oC.
  • Marked decreases in rainfall during the summer and early autumn months across eastern and central Ireland are predicted. Nationally, these are of the order of 25% with decreases of over 40% in some parts of the south-east.
  • Overall increases in precipitation are predicted for the winter months of December- February. On average these amount to 11%. The greatest increases are suggested for the north west where increases of approximately 20% are suggested by mid century. Little change is suggested as occurring on the east coast and in the eastern part of the Central Plain.

McGrath et al [pages 22--29] from the EPA had this to say:

Based on a stripped down version of a German climate simulation model, the ECHAM4 model. They found:

  1. Mean monthly temperatures will increase from 2021-2060 by 1.25-1.5 degrees;
  2. There will be changes in weather patterns, most likely more rain in winter and less in June and July;
  3. Patterns will change most markedly in the South East and East.

It's important to note that one of the key numbers here is 2 degrees increase in mean monthly temperatures, with a carbon measurement of between 500-550 parts per million. Right now we're looking at 400 parts per million in the Irish atmosphere, most of the time.

Local Scale

Change.ie has a great infographic showing the effects on local communities of climate change. Limerick, for instance, can expect increased flooding more of the year round. Awesome.

Economic Effects

Page 3 of Chapter 4 of the OECD's April 2008 report (.pdf) projects a 2.8--4 degree increase over the next 100 years. The report also cites Stern's 2008 report of Global warming costing up to 10% of world GDP over the next 50 years. If we experienced that in Ireland in 2020, it would bring us back to 2001 levels of  wealth. Basically a generation's work lost, just because of climate change's direct effects.

I'll post more on this when I get time, but it's a very interesting area to think about. So I will.

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