Ireland should be better prepared for extreme weather, says UCC expert

Ireland should be better prepared for extreme weather, says UCC expert
Weather conditions during the recent Storm Doris at Dun Laoghaire Pier, Co Dublin. Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

A leading academic from the field of climate change at UCC has said we could be better prepared for extreme weather conditions in future.

Dr Paul Leahy, a lecturer at UCC, said the highest daily rainfall since records began was recorded on October 3 last year at Valentia in Co Kerry.

Dr Leahy is project leader of CLIMATT - which investigates trends in extreme weather and how it is influenced by climate change. 

He was was speaking to the Evening Echo ahead of the CLIMATT CoLAB event which begins today with a lecture by University of Oxford professor Myles Allen.

Professor Allen is a leading international expert on climate change and is working with the Economic Research Institute (ERI), based at UCC, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the CLIMATT project.

They will examine extreme weather in Ireland and the potential impacts of climate change in the country.

Last week, Storm Doris battered the nation and Dr Leahy believes the influence of climate change on such events can be measured.

“The goal of CLIMATT is to look at specific events like Storm Doris and say, whether or not, they are influenced by climate change and if they are, by how much, and be able to attribute a percentage cause to climate change,” he said.

“The highest recorded daily rainfall occurred in Valentia last year... and that's in over 150 years. It was 105 millimetres which is very extreme rainfall for this part of the world.

“Extremes appear to be coming more frequently and the project will help us understand what we can expect in the future and how often these events are going to occur in this part of the world.

“Being prepared is the most important part of reacting to climate change and when you have the knowledge you can prepare properly and have the infrastructure to protect from flood damage and put measures in place against drought and other results of extreme weather.“ 

Professor Allen believes the collection of data is key to predicting and understanding extreme weather.

“We have been predicting warmer and wetter winters for over 25 years. Now data collected from thousands of homes over the last 10 years has made it possible for us to data mine and research extreme weather patterns and events, so we can understand if these events are linked to climate change,” he said.

“Normal weather, unchanged over generations, is a thing of the past. We are going to have to use climate simulations to work out what the weather will be like, and how the infrastructure should be applied to manage the weather in the next 50 years,” he added.

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