WITH SOME EUROPEAN countries suffering from 40 and 50 degree temperatures in recent weeks, a climate expert says Ireland will not hit that heat ‘anytime soon’
Spain, France and other Western European countries experienced an intense heat wave in June.
Climate science shows that heat waves will occur earlier in the year due to global warming.
Clare Nullis, spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization, said European heatwaves are “unfortunately a taste of the future”.
Peter Thorne, a climatologist and professor at Maynooth University, said they matched “entirely what we expect” based on science.
“It’s shocking to people who don’t really follow this stuff, but for experts like me and a lot of my colleagues, it’s a very expected phenomenon,” Thorne said. The newspaper.
Ireland is experiencing a temperature increase roughly in line with the global average – which is currently 1.1 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
And with milder than average temperatures in Ireland, Thorne said the country won’t see temperatures hit 40 degrees Celsius “anytime soon”.
The highest recorded temperature in Ireland was 33.3 degrees in Kilkenny in the late 1800s.
The highest temperature in the 20th century was 32.5 degrees in Offaly.
“We’re going to break this up,” Thorne said.
“We are going to end up breaking the two, probably in the years to come or certainly in the decades to come. But we are not going to break them immediately to seven degrees.
40 degrees is probably achievable in central Ireland with the right setup and with further years of greenhouse gas buildup, but very unlikely to happen anytime soon.
“Temperatures in the mid-30s with the right setup would probably be achievable today, 35 might be achievable today, but 40 is a stretch.”
Rising temperatures around the world
A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released earlier this year made it clear that climate change is already causing severe and widespread disruption around the world.
The UN report found that 3.3 to 3.6 billion people – around half of the world’s population – are vulnerable to climate change.
Earlier this year, countries like India and Pakistan experienced temperatures above 50 degrees.
Millions of people have more recently been stranded by floods in India and Bangladesh.
Emergency services have been battling forest fires in northern Spain. There were also fires in parts of Germany where temperatures reached 38 degrees Celsius in eastern regions.
Seven of the ten warmest years in Ireland since the turn of the 20th century have occurred since 1990.
Keith Lambkin, senior climatologist at Met Éireann, said Ireland does not experience past heatwaves to the same extent as other parts of Europe.
Irish heat waves are usually felt in July.
“It’s not unusual to see them in June or August either, but it would be quite unusual to see them in May and September,” Lambkin said. The newspaper.
He said heat waves in countries like Spain and France are caused by winds blowing in from Africa.
“That’s one of the reasons we escaped this particular heat wave,” he said. “The prevailing wind [in Ireland] usually comes from the west, so we tend to have a more moderate climate.
“It’s effectively a different weather pattern, so we’re not going to experience that type of overheating.
“But that doesn’t mean our temperature won’t change either.”
Heat waves occur in Ireland when there are five or more days with a temperature of at least 25 degrees Celsius.
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On dealing with these higher temperatures, Peter Thorne said Ireland was “fundamentally not set up for the heat”.
“We’re not at all acclimated in Ireland to those kinds of extremes” of over 40 degrees, he said.
“Just think back to the few days that were really hot last year and how uncomfortable it was because our buildings couldn’t cool down. They simply act as heat traps.
“And that was when we hit 28, 29 [degrees] during the day.”
He said countries that regularly hit higher temperatures in the 30s, 40s and even 50s had “infrastructure and adaptation responses” to help them cope with high heat.
We don’t have such adaptations in Ireland, so we suffer even in temperatures much lower than the 40s or 50s. We suffer even in the 20s, let alone the late 30s.
“It’s heat shock, it’s what you’re used to versus what you suddenly have to deal with.”
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently warned that the past seven years have been the warmest on record, with global sea levels hitting a new record high in 2021 and greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have reached record levels.