Our changing climate

According to the latest Assessment Report (AR5) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warming of the climate system is unequivocal. Many of the observed changes since the 1950s are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and oceans have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased. In fact, each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850.

The IPCC considers that human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing GHG concentrations in the atmosphere, observed warming and understanding of the climate system.

Ireland’s climate, even in the last 20 or so years, has seen a noticeable change in temperature. The graph below from Ireland's Climate: The Road Ahead (2013) shows that Ireland’s mean temperature went up by 0.5°C since 1990 alone (follow the red line), which in climate terms is a very significant rise. One of the consequences so far has been higher rainfall recorded in the west, south-west and north of the country.

Ireland's Mean Temperture 1900-2012
Source: Ireland's Climate: The Road Ahead

In fact, six of Ireland’s warmest years on record have occurred since 1990. In Valentia during 2007, they recorded the warmest year since records began in 1892. Indeed, in the last three decades an increase in temperature of 0.42°C per decade has been seen, compared with an increase of 0.23°C per decade between 1910 and 1949.

A long term rainfall series for Ireland has recently been published and details are available here. Temperature graphs and data from Met Éireann are available here. 

If climate change continues at this pace, increased global temperatures will result in dangerous and irreversible impacts on our planet. The challenge for us all, in Ireland and elsewhere, is therefore to limit and adapt to climate change.

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