herald

Thursday 24 July 2014

It's getting hotter ... but it's also getting wetter!

IRELAND is in line for hotter summers but wetter winters, according to Met Eireann.

The recent spell of warm temperatures and the extended summer of 2013 could be a regular occurrence, say experts.

Forecasters have predicted that daytime summer temperatures and winter night temperatures are likely to rise by up to 2C.

This could mean extreme summer temperatures may exceed 35C by the end of the century.

The analysis released by Met Eireann – Ireland's Climate: The Road Ahead – was the result of work with universities in Ireland, Germany, the UK, Holland and the US.

It found that weather patterns will probably deliver wetter, milder winters and drier summers.

 

The north of Ireland in particular will see milder nights during winter, with fewer frost and ice days.

However, incidents of heavy rainfall are likely to increase in frequency through to the middle of this century.

Ray McGrath, head of research at Met Eireann, said the report attempts to "get to grips with what our changing climate will mean".

The changing weather patterns will have knock-on effects on wildlife, public health, air pollution, waves and renewable energy.

The report found that milder winters are most likely to reduce cold-related death rates among the elderly and frail, but there may be increases in loss of life due to heat stress in the summer months.

The higher temperatures will affect the ecological system and could affect the numbers of Irish butterflies – as the insects respond quickly to changes in their environment. The complex report found the impact was "difficult to predict" as butterflies do react positively to higher temperatures, but it is possible "that any benefit of a warming climate may be overridden by habitat loss and change".

Warmer springtimes in recent years have had a "significant impact" on Irish wildlife as they have brought forward the timing of key elements of nature – including trees, birds and insects.

hnews@herald.ie

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