Research 277: Irish Climate Futures: Data for Decision-making

Authors: Conor Murphy, Ciaran Broderick, Tom K.R. Matthews, Simon Noone and Ciara Ryan

Summary: The realisation of a climate-resilient Ireland over the coming decades depends on decisions taken at all scales to adapt to climate change. Good decisions depend on the types and quality of information used to inform planning. Building resilience requires the diversification of the types of information used for understanding past and future climate variability and change, and a better understanding of the range of plausible changes.

Published: 2019

ISBN: 978-1-84095-832-4

Pages: 76

Filesize: 5,326KB

Format: pdf

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Identifying Pressures

The realisation of a climate-resilient Ireland over the coming decades depends on decisions taken at all scales to adapt to climate change. Good decisions depend on the type and quality of information used to inform planning. Building resilience requires the diversification of the types of information used to understand past and future climate variability and change, and improved insight into the plausible range of changing conditions that will need to be addressed.

Informing Policy

The need to adapt to climate change means that there is a demand from a variety of different users and sectors for actionable climate information. For instance, in the Irish context, guidance is provided for sectors and local authorities in developing and implementing adaptation plans. In particular, climate information is required to (1) assess the current adaptation baseline, which involves identifying extremes in the historical record and examining the vulnerabilities and impacts of these; (2) assess future climate risks; and (3) identify, assess and prioritise adaptation options. A key challenge to undertaking these tasks is identifying the kinds of climate data that are required for the development and implementation of adaptation planning. This challenge is explored, and aspects are addressed as part of this research. Outputs from this work have been used to inform the Citizen’s Assembly deliberations on climate change, the National Adaptation Framework and the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Action.

Developing Solutions

This work draws together long-term, quality-assured records of precipitation and historical droughts that extend back to the 1700s. These records can be used to interrogate vulnerability to climate extremes in adaptation planning in a range of water-sensitive sectors. In addition, a Climate Futures framework is proposed that allows climate model information to be tailored for different user needs, ranging from basic research users to intermediate and advanced research users. To aid in the communication of risks from past and future climate change, recent seasonal extremes are used as climate change analogues and an assessment is provided of how these extremes have become more likely over the past century and are likely to become even more frequent in the coming decades. Finally, changes in rainfall extremes are assessed using output from the CORDEX ensemble of regional climate models.