Cathal Nolan.

Warning that climate change will bring drought and water rationing

An increase in summer drought and water rationing lie ahead for the midlands, local climatologist Cathal Nolan has predicted.

Curator of the Midland Weather Channel on Facebook, Cathal says climate change will lead to rising temperatures which will raise thetemperature of inland lakes, leading to fishkills and algal blooms; it will cause more intense storms leading to flash flooding, while temperatures will also cause an increase in peat and forestry fires.

"Rainfall under continued warming is expected to increase in the winter months, while summer rainfall totals are expected to drop considerably across southern, eastern and midland areas.

"However, during the summer intense downpours are also expected to increase, as high temperatures translate to more intense rainfall events, leading to increased flash flooding events, soil erosion and potential runoff related issues from agricultural land leading to fish kills," explained Cathal Nolan.

Water supplies are also likely to become increasingly stretched.

"Our winters are likely to see marked changes overall, with autumn and early winter being characterised by an increase in the number of damaging storms," continues Cathal.

"The second half of the winter and early spring is likely to become somewhat more settled, with drier than average conditions, though with an increased risk of colder than average outbreaks.

"More energy in the atmosphere overall due to warming means that any snowfall events have the potential to provide increased snowfall rates, as was the case during Storm Emma in 2018."

He foresees fodder supplies becoming more and more stretched due to the longevity of the winter seasons, with disruption to crops and breeding seasons.

Cathal puts all this down to the effect of global warming on the jet stream and gulf stream, two principal factors in Ireland's current stable climate until this point.

"Temperatures have risen 0.9 degrees Celsius over the last century, but the strongest warming has occurred in the polar regions, where temperatures have in fact increased by between 2-3 degrees Celsius.

"That means a significant amount of ice from Greenland and the Arctic regions has melted, flowing directly into the North Atlantic, causing some rather significant developments in terms of the global ocean current circulations.

"The weakening of the Gulf Stream is of around 10-14%, and we could see a further reduction of over 20-30% by the end of the century. From an Irish perspective this is particularly troubling as our stable climate largely depends upon the Gulf Stream.

"The warming of the Arctic has reduced the temperature gradient between the north and south, causing a weakened flow, forcing the jet stream to meander, which in turn leads to much more unpredictable weather.

"Ireland’s record on climate action at a government level is abysmal to say the least. Out of 28 EU members, Ireland is ranked 27th in terms of its progress on climate change, with only Poland faring worse. Already Ireland is facing fines in excess of €500 million in 2020, for failing to meet our target of reducing emissions by 20%."

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