Research 159: Ensemble of regional climate model projections for Ireland

Summary: This report provides an outline of the regional climate modelling undertaken to determine the potential impacts of climate change in Ireland, based on a number of possible future scenarios, and to highlight the key findings.

Published: 2015

ISBN: 978-1-84095-609-2

Pages: 88

Filesize: 6,779KB

Format: pdf

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Background
Climate Change is the major challenge of our time. At a global scale, there is robust understanding of the observed changes in various elements of the climate system, and from this there is compelling analysis of the potential changes in climate in store for the planet over the next several decades. Analysis of climate change at a regional or national scale is more challenging, and therefore the projections of future climate change more uncertain. Nevertheless, using the global models as the starting point, it is possible to initiate regional climate models, operating at much higher spatial resolution, to generate insights at the scale of interest to decision makers on the ground, looking to respond and adapt in the best way possible to the impacts of climate change.

Identifying Pressures
Ireland’s north Atlantic location leaves us open to disparate factors which will influence our potential future climate. That our climate is changing is beyond doubt. The challenge is to provide researchers, decision makers and the general public with the detailed, high quality information required to make informed decisions on policy development and investments which will be resilient to the impact of climate change. This report provides an outline of the regional climate modelling undertaken to determine the potential impacts of climate change in Ireland, based on a number of possible future scenarios, and to highlight the key findings. The project has also provided a large database, which can be interrogated for various meteorological parameters, essential for detailed analysis across a diverse range of sectoral concerns.

Informing Policy
Findings from this study indicate that by the middle of this century:
• Mean annual temperatures will increase by 1–1.6°C, with the largest increases seen in the east of the country.
• Hot days will get warmer by 0.7–2.6°C compared with the baseline period.
• Cold nights will get warmer by 1.1–3.1°C.
• Averaged over the whole country, the number of frost days is projected to decrease by over 50%.
• The average length of the growing season will increase by over 35 days per year.
• Significant decreases in rainfall during the spring and summer months are likely.
• Heavy rainfall events will increase in winter and autumn.
• The energy content of the wind is projected to decrease during spring, summer and autumn. The projected decreases are largest for summer, with values ranging from 3% to 15%.
• Storms affecting Ireland will decrease in frequency, but increase in intensity, with increased risk of damage.

Developing Solutions
The research provides Ireland with a data resource to explore Ireland’s future climate and enables the assessment of the scale of impacts across sectors, at regional and local scales.