What impact will climate change have on Ireland?

Climate science is clear - human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. At current levels of global greenhouse gas emissions, the world remains on course to exceed the Paris Agreement’s temperature thresholds of either 1.5°C or 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Climate change not only means changes in the average climate such as temperature but also changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather and climate events. Though climate change projections, like all projections of the future, are subject to uncertainty, the latest climate modelling projections for Ireland are in broad agreement with previous research.

Observed and Projected Climate Change

Temperature Trend

Ireland's climate is changing in line with global trends, with a temperature increase of, on average, 0.8°C compared with 1900. By the middle of this century (2041 – 2060) the average annual temperatures are projected to increase by between 1–1.2℃ and 1.3–1.6℃ depending on the emissions trajectory. The number of warm days is expected to increase and heat waves are expected to occur more frequently.


Ireland has seen an increase in average annual national rainfall of approximately 60mm or 5% in the period 1981-2010, compared to the 30- year period 1961-1990. Significant reductions are expected in average levels of annual, spring and summer rainfall. Projections indicate a substantial increase in the frequency of heavy precipitation events in Winter and Autumn (approx. 20%).

Sea Level Rise

The rate of global sea level rise for 2006–2015 of 3.6 mm per year, is unprecedented over the last century, and about 2.5 times the rate for 1901–1990. Sea level is projected to continue to rise at this rate or greater. All major cities in Ireland are in coastal locations subject to tides, any significant rise in sea levels will have major economic, social and environmental impacts. Rising sea levels around Ireland would result in increased coastal erosion, flooding and damage to property and infrastructure.

Other Indicators

  • The last five-year (2015–2019) and ten-year (2010–2019) average temperatures are the warmest on record. Since the 1980s, each successive decade has been warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.
  • In Ireland, 2019 was the ninth consecutive year with temperatures above normal.
  • Ireland has seen a reduction in the number of frost days and shortening of length of the frost season.
  • The number of very intense storms is projected to increase over the North Atlantic region. Projections suggest that the winter track of these storms may extend further south and over Ireland more often.
  • Sea surface temperature in Irish waters has increased at a rate of approximately 0.6°C per decade since 1994, which is unprecedented in the 150-year observational record.

Future Impacts

The climate projections for the next century indicate that observed climate trends will continue and intensify over the coming decades. Adaptation refers to actions taken to reduce vulnerability and exposure to climate change impacts. The more we reduce global emissions, the less adaptation to the consequences of climate change will be required. However, some impacts are already unavoidable.

Predicted impacts include:

  • changes in wind speeds and storm tracks
  • increased likelihood of river and coastal flooding
  • changes in distribution of plant and animal species and in the phenology (the timing of lifecycle events) of native species
  • water stress for crops, pressure on water supply and adverse impacts on water quality
  • negative impacts on human health and wellbeing

More Information

For more climate related resources, please visit the ‘Climate Change & You’ section of the EPA website.

EPA's Climate Change Research Reports

Climate change work is also done by Ireland’s meteorological service, Met Eireann.

The information and data required for climate adaptation planning in Ireland, including observed climate information and climate change projections can be found on Ireland’s Climate Information Platform, Climate Ireland.