Research 386: The Status of Ireland’s Climate, 2020

Editors and Lead Authors: Walther C.A. Cámaro García and Ned Dwyer

Summary: As an island on the western boundary of Europe facing the Atlantic Ocean, Ireland is ideally positioned to measure and assess ongoing climate change. The first Status of Ireland’s Climate report was published in 2013. This second status report provides an update, incorporating new datasets and analyses as well as reporting ongoing climate observations over the last 7 years.

Report cover 386

Published: 2021

ISBN: 978-1-80009-009-5

Pages: 234

Filesize: 28,381 KB

Format: pdf


Project Highlights

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Identifying Pressures

Evidence of climate change is being manifested across the atmosphere, ocean and terrestrial domains. Such change and its impacts pose significant threats to Ireland’s environment, society and economy and climate change mitigation and adaptation are urgent issues. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has recognised the importance of high-quality observations of the climate in identification of trends and phenomena that are driving climate change. An effective response needs to be informed by reliable, quality-controlled and timely observations of the atmosphere, ocean and terrestrial environments. Such observations aid understanding of the characteristics of the current climate and how it is changing and they can inform responses and actions to limit the adverse consequences of ongoing and future climate changes.

Informing Policy

The Parties to the UNFCCC have adopted the Global Climate Observing System’s Implementation Plan, to provide robust data on a set of more than 40 essential climate variables for the atmosphere, ocean and terrestrial domains. Parties to the UNFCCC report these to national and international networks and bodies. Their analysis informs actions from global to local levels including by end users and the public. Observations in Ireland are generally consistent with global trends with measurements of the major greenhouse gases at Mace Head since the 1980s show ever increasing atmospheric concentrations. Air temperatures are increasing, with an increase of approximately 0.9°C observed over the last 120 years. Progress has been made in several areas, in terms of observation infrastructure, resourcing, analyses and co-ordination, since the previous climate status report in 2013. Nonetheless, there are significant issues that need to be addressed to ensure the national climate observation system is fit for purpose for the coming decades. These include:

  • the transitioning of observations that rely on one-off funding to long-term programmes with sustained funding;
  • comprehensive analysis of in situ and satellite data records for those essential climate variables relevant to Ireland that have not yet been fully exploited;
  • the establishment of climate-relevant observation networks that take advantage of infrastructure already in place;
  • improved access to data and information on Ireland’s climate; and the development of a roadmap for future observational infrastructure.

Developing Solutions

To support the selection and development of appropriate mitigation and adaptation actions, high-quality, up-to-date information on observed climate change across all domains is required. This information needs to be reviewed and updated systematically and regularly and delivered in a format that is accessible and understandable. This is a key purpose of this report. The data and information contained within it provides a comprehensive understanding of climate change in Ireland and can inform mitigation and adaptation plans and actions at national local and sectoral levels.