Climate Change in Ireland: Refining the Impacts for Ireland

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Resource or Project Abstract

The need to address potential impacts of climate change in Ireland has become increasingly recognised in recent years as the environmental consequences of rapid economic growth become more acute. Irretrievable commitments of finite natural resources such as soil, water, energy and land accelerate and require careful management if the quality of life of future generations is not to be adversely affected. For many projects, plans and programmes, a medium to long-term view of climate change impacts is an essential ingredient in this process in order that adaptation or mitigation can be undertaken. Ireland lies on the westernmost edge of the European continent on the fringe of the North Atlantic Ocean. As a consequence of its proximity to this large body of water and being situated within the prevailing westerlies of the mid-latitudes, its climate is predominantly maritime in character. Mean annual temperatures in Ireland have risen by 0.74C over the past 100 years (McElwain and Sweeney, 2007). This increase largely occurred in two periods, from 1910 to the 1940s and from the 1980s onwards, with a rate of warming since 1980 of 0.42C per decade. In Ireland, 6 of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 1995 with the warmest year within this period being 1997. Increases in minimum temperatures were greater than maximum during summer while in winter the opposite is the case (Sweeney et al., 2002). As with global trends, a reduction in the average daily temperature range has occurred, though this has now ceased in recent decades at the global level (IPCC, 2007). Significant temporal and spatial changes are also apparent in precipitation receipts in Ireland. Annual precipitation is increasing in the north of the country, while decreases in receipts are evident in the south. Increases in the frequency of rain and wet days were also found to be occurring during the months of March and October, with decreases in the May to September period and in December (McElwain and Sweeney, 2007). While the North Atlantic Oscillation was found to account for some of the variation in precipitation, other factors are necessary in order to account for the changes apparent in precipitation. The Irish climate is experiencing changes which have been found to be consistent with those occurring at a global scale and there now is growing confidence that these changes are largely attributable to global warming. This study has sought to narrow the scientific uncertainties for Ireland by developing novel downscaling techniques for combinations of global climate models and subsequently using the output to drive impact models in key sectors such as agriculture, water resources and biodiversity. however, it is clear that any impact analysis must be tempered by consideration of how Irish socioeconomic systems will respond in terms of adaptation and mitigation to a changed climate risk environment. While reducing the scientific uncertainty provides an essential input to policy processes, decision making about how to respond to climate change threats will be influenced by a range of other agendas. Ireland can and must adapt to the challenge of climate change. Barriers to this, both scientific and socio-economic, require to be identified and addressed in order that Ireland can be optimally positioned to thrive in a changing world.

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Contact Information for This Resource

Prof. John Sweeney
National University of Ireland Maynooth
ICARUS (Director) and Dept of Geog. Senior Lecturer
ICARUS, Room 16, Department of Geography, National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM), Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland
Telephone: +353 1 708 3684

Dr. Rowan Fealy
National University of Ireland Maynooth
Research Lecturer
ICARUS,, Room 2.3 Department of Geography, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Co. Kildare., Ireland
Telephone: +353 1 708 4562

Dr. Rosemary Charlton
National University of Ireland Maynooth
Lecturer and 1st Year Manager
ICARUS, 23 Rhetoric House, Department of Geography, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland
Telephone: 353 1 708 3679

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Attachment Name and Download Link
Offline Print Quality Version    STRIVE_12_JSweeney_ClimateChangeImpacts_prn.pdf  (10.2 Mb)
Project Report Optimised For Online Viewing    STRIVE_12_JSweeney_ClimateChangeImpacts_web.pdf  (3.14 Mb)
Att 3    STRIVE_12_AgroClimaticRegions.jpg   (0.13 Mb)
Att 4    STRIVE_12_CatchmentLocations.jpg   (0.25 Mb)
Att 5    STRIVE_12_SynapticStations.jpg   (0.18 Mb)

Suggested Citation Information

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Author(s)Sweeney, J. Fealy, R. Charlton, R.
Title Of WebsiteSecure Archive For Environmental Research Data
Publication InformationClimate Change in Ireland: Refining the Impacts for Ireland
Name of OrganisationEnvironmental Protection Agency Ireland
Electronic Address or URL
Unique Identifierfccf9279-85fd-102c-9c91-0a68ec663af0
Date of AccessLast Updated on SAFER: 2017-03-29

An example of this citation in proper usage:

Sweeney, J. Fealy, R. Charlton, R.   "Climate Change in Ireland: Refining the Impacts for Ireland". Associated datasets and digitial information objects connected to this resource are available at: Secure Archive For Environmental Research Data (SAFER) managed by Environmental Protection Agency Ireland (Last Accessed: 2017-03-29)


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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL
Resource KeywordsClimate Scenarios Downscaling Regional Extremes Ireland Vulnerabilities Risks
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2001-CD-C3-M1
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeClimate Change
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Limitations on the use of this ResourceCurrently SAFER-Data nor the EPA holds or has access to the data or information used to generate this report. In the event of obtaining access to datasets corresponding to this resource any datasets, data, or information resources being used in a journal article or other means of publication the original authors should be informed of this usage and an appropriate acknowledgement or citation is included within the published article. The EPA advise that this acknowledgement should take one of the following forms dependent upon how heavily the published work relates to the downloaded data: * Co-Authorship(s) for the original author(s)* Written acknowledgement within the body of the article* Written acknowledgement by means of the inclusion of a bibliography entry which clearly cites the original authors.
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 5
Project Start Date Tuesday 1st May 2001 (01-05-2001)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Monday 1st January 2001 (01-01-2001)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Thursday 30th April 2009 (30-04-2009)
Published on SAFERWednesday 29th April 2009 (29-04-2009)
Date of Last EditWednesday 29th April 2009 at 12:54:39 (29-04-2009)
Datasets or Files Updated On Wednesday 29th April 2009 at 12:54:39 (29-04-2009)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
This project looked at the island of Ireland: Multi-model ensembles involved three different Global Climate Modesl for downscaling to the Irish Synoptic Station Network ( Hydrological modelling based on nine key catchments was undertaken using the future scenarios developed. The catchments studied where: Suir, Blackwater, Boyne, Moy, Barrow, Brosna, Inny, Suck, and Ryewater. The sites with minimum and maximum yield for grass, barley, maize, potato, and soybean were identified. These were clustered in regions such as East Ulster, East Leinster, Central Connaught, West Ulster. The impact of climate change on Semi-Natural Ecosystems in Ireland were studied Valentia, Co. Kerry, John F. Kennedy Arboretum Co. Wexford, Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford, and the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin city.

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

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Lineage information about this project or dataset
Impact analysis in Ireland has been tackled in particular sectors over many years, though the first comprehensive approach was that of McWilliams (1991). This set prescribed climate scenarios for impact modellers to use. The second main assessment occurred in 2003 using downscaled global climate data as inputs to models in several key sectors (Sweeney et al., 2003). While this provided strong signals regarding spatial variations in impacts throughout Ireland, it was based on one global climate model. Progress since then has been significant in developing global climate model outputs in an increasingly sophisticated manner, enabling multiple runs of multiple models to be used as a vehicle for reducing the cascade of uncertainty which exists between future socio-economic projections and climate responses. This work seeks to employ such an approach to provide policymakers with more specific tools for managing the Irish environment in the three key sectors of water resources, agriculture and biodiversity.
Supplementary Information
Climate Change: Scenarios and Impacts for Ireland ERTDI Report 15 - Sweeney et al. This report from 2003 shows scenarios of climate change in Ireland, and analysis of impact. The report also suggests areas where further efforts are required to position Ireland better to cope with the threats and opportunities posed by what is likely to be the most important environmental issue of this century. The link is available on Links to Other Resources.

In the report Chapter 1: Global and Irish Trends in Climate was written by Sweeney and Fealy, NUI Maynooth. Chapter 2: Climate Scenarios for Ireland was also written by Sweeney and Fealy NUI Maynooth. Chapter 3: Climate Change and Water Resources was written by Murphy and Charlton, NUI Maynooth. Chapter 4: Impact of Climate Change on Irish Agricultural Production Systems - was written by Holden, Berereton, and Fitzgerald, UCD. Finally, Chapter 5: The impact of Climate Change on Semi Natural Ecosystems in Ireland was written by Donnelly, Caffarra, Albanito, and Jones, Trinity College Dublin.
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