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. This is achieved through baseline and background measurements of essential climate variables (ECVs). These include measurements of background concentrations of greenhouse gases and other atmospheric constituents that change the global energy balance and drive climate change by trapping more energy in the Earth’s climate system.
Over 90% of this additional energy is absorbed by the ocean, which is undergoing unprecedented changes. According to a recent publication from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it is virtually certain that the global ocean has warmed unabated since 1970 and that the rate of ocean warming has more than doubled since 1993. There has been a doubling in the frequency of marine heatwaves since 1982.
Moreover, as a result of absorbing more carbon dioxide, there has been increasing ocean surface acidification. Ireland’s climate and that of northwest Europe is dominated by the Atlantic Ocean, and its coastal zones are affected by sea level rise. Understanding how the Atlantic Ocean is responding to climate change through monitoring of climate parameters is therefore vital. Similarly, monitoring of climate-related changes to the land surface and hydrological regimes (including rainfall and river flows) is important, given their centrality to and influence on the socio-economic environment. They also include carbon stocks and sinks in soils and biomass. Ireland still has extensive areas of peatland that play an important role in carbon and water storage. Their health and that of other terrestrial carbon systems is very sensitive to changes in climate.
Source – EPA