What Impact will climate change have for Ireland?

The EPA’s Climate Change Research Programme carries out relevant and up to date studies on climate change in Ireland.  Analysis of the meteorological records shows that Ireland’s climate is changing in line with global patterns.

Temperature Trend

The clearest trend is evident in the temperature records which show a mean temperature increase of 0.7o C between 1890 and 2008, i.e. an increase of 0.06o C per decade. The increase was 0.4o C during the period 1980-2008, i.e. equivalent to 0.14o C per decade. 

Other Indicators

  • Six of the ten warmest years in Ireland have occurred since 1990
  • A reduction in the number of frost days and shortening of frost season length
  • An increase in annual rainfall in northern and western areas with decreases or small increases in the south and east.

These changes are reflected in Ireland’s natural environment with an increase in the growing season and with greater number of animals suited to warmer temperatures being evident in Ireland and its surrounding waters.

Ocean Acidification

In more recent years, another significant issue has emerged. Ocean Acidification will have harmful effects on marine organisms and has the potential to disrupt global marine ecosystems. For more information see the Marine Institute's report Ocean Acidification: An Emerging Threat to our Marine Environment

Future Adverse Impacts

Climate change impacts are projected to increase in the coming decades and during the rest of this century. Uncertainties remain in relation to the scale and extent of these impacts, particularly during the second half of the century. The greatest uncertainly lies in how effective global actions will be in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Predicted adverse impacts include:

  • sea level rise,
  • more intense storms and rainfall events,
  • increased likelihood and magnitude of river and coastal flooding and
  • water shortages in summer in the east
  • adverse impacts on water quality
  • changes in distribution of plant and animal species
  • effects on fisheries sensitive to changes in temperature

More Information

Download the EPA's Summary of the state of knowledge on climate change impacts for Ireland