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Weatherman Ger tells of climate fears

The face of Irish weather Ger Fleming has told of his dismay at the extreme climate facing his children and grandchildren.

Ireland is set to be hit with much more extreme weather in the next 50 years, including intense heatwaves, flooding and storms, the one-time 'winking weatherman' warned.

The former TV forecaster has been reading out the same variations of our mild, rainy climate for the past three decades but he said last night that future generations are set to be hit with dramatic changes to our largely uneventful weather patterns.

"In my lifetime, I will probably see some changes but my children will see changes and my grandchildren will see big changes," he said.

"I'm concerned we're not leaving the generations following us - these are people alive now, not some people far in the future - the same sort of pleasant atmosphere and climate that we've enjoyed in the later part of the 20th and first part of the 21st century.

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"Some of the changes that are going to happen now, we've gone beyond the point where we can reverse them, and we need to learn how to live with them."

Mr Fleming told RTE's Science Squad that the severe weather which battered Ireland at the end of 2013 and start of this year was "quite amazing".

"We suddenly got these Atlantic storms which lasted eight weeks. We had eight major storms from mid-December to mid-February.

"If we look at the rainfall for the winter months it was record breaking in many parts of the country," he said.

Dr Frank McGovern, Head of Climate Change research at the Environmental Protection Agency, told the RTE series that future climate model simulations from 2121 to 2060 show Ireland's climate will "change remarkably over the next number of decades".

"Things are going to get warmer and wetter.

"We could experience very intense heat waves, which causes all sorts of problems in terms of difficulty with animals on farms and difficulty for humans vulnerable to extremes," he said.

"We are going to get more intense rainfall, particularly in the winter months, and we see changes of up to 20pc occurring, which is a really massive increase in what is already a wet seasons for us."

And he said the nation shouldn't be lulled into the false notion that climate changes will bring long, hot Mediterranean summers.

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"We shouldn't [think] Ireland is going to have a Mediterranean climate. Ireland will never have a Mediterranean climate."

Major cities like Limerick and Cork will be vulnerable to flooding with the predicted weather changes, he said.

"We will still have very variable climate except the extremes will be more extreme."

hnews@herald.ie


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