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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 August 2007, 07:45 GMT 08:45 UK
Ireland hotting up, says report
A view of Earth from Space
Temperatures are heating up faster than the earth's average
The Irish climate is heating up almost twice as fast as the rest of the world, a report has suggested.

Weather records from the last 100 years show significant differences between Ireland's temperature patterns and global warming.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which commissioned the research, said the impact could not be slowed in future years by international action.

The study showed average temperatures rising by twice the earth's average.

It is believed the seas around the island have been acting as a buffer which delays the arrival of global temperature patterns.

Dr John Sweeney, of Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units (ICARUS) who was one of the report's authors said: "So we're catching up, we're making up for lost time."

It's not so much the temperature which will be important for Ireland so much as the rainfall changes
Dr John Sweeney
Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units

The study of meteorological records found a 0.7 degrees Celsius temperature rise overall along with more intense and frequent rainfall over the last century.

But while the rest of the world began to warm around the mid-1970s Ireland was still cooling down from the earlier part of last century until about 1981 or 1982.

"It's really since that time that we've changed the corner as a country in terms of warming ... and warming at roughly twice the rate of the global average," Dr Sweeney said.

The National University of Ireland academic said the changes may not be so noticeable to most at the moment because it was happening mainly at night.

The evening temperature rise may be down to extra moisture in the air, which is forming clouds and trapping in after dark heat.

"It's not yet perceptible to everybody but once the day time maximum temperature in the summer begins to respond in the same way then we will really begin to accept climate change in Ireland big time, I'm afraid," he said.

Gas emissions

The climate change - expected to bring 2.5 degrees Celsius higher temperatures in the summer, and slightly less than that in the winter by 2050 - will impact worst on the most populated parts of the island.

"It's not so much the temperature which will be important for Ireland so much as the rainfall changes," said Dr Sweeney.

"We're an island that has become very dependant on an abundant supply of water.

"If that begins to pose a problem in the years ahead - especially in those parts of the country where we are putting large numbers of people, demanding large quantities of water - that's where the crunch will probably come for Ireland, first of all.

"It will be in terms of the ability to meet municipal demand, meet agricultural demand for water in the drier parts of the country, in the east and the south east."

Ireland's Environment Minister John Gormley has pledged to introduce several initiatives before the end of the year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as other strategies to stem global warming.

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