Page last updated at 12:20 GMT, Tuesday, 28 April 2009 13:20 UK

Irish temperatures may rise 1.8C

A new report predicts major climate change for Ireland in the next 40 years

Intense rainfall and heavy droughts will change the Irish climate dramatically in 40 years, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

In the Irish agency's latest report, it predicts that average temperatures will rise by between 1.4C to 1.8C by 2050.

By the end of the century, that will be more than 2C, the point at which both the EU and UN believe catastrophic and irreversible impacts will begin.

The research was carried out at NUI Maynooth and published by the EPA.

It found that winter rain could rise by 10% and summer rain fall by 12 - 17% by 2050 across Ireland.

The biggest rainfall increases are predicted for the midlands.

Longer heat waves and droughts may occur, especially in eastern and southern parts of Ireland.

Professor John Sweeney, NUIM, the lead author of the report - "Climate change in Ireland: Refining the Impacts for Ireland" - said: "We are looking at changes in extremes at both ends of the spectrum, more rain and more intense rainfall at one end and then heat waves and droughts at the other.

More frequent floods are predicted

"However, considerable uncertainty still remains in several areas, particularly in relation to rainfall. A risk management type approach to adaptation will be required to take account of these uncertainties."

Professor Sweeney said that by 2050, reductions in summer rainfall of between 20% and 28% are projected for the southern and eastern coasts.

This could increase to between 30% and 40% by 2080 - which would support the belief that the commercial growing of potatoes could become impossible.

Floods could also become much more frequent - with the "10-year flood" happening every three years.

The report said the main challenges to farmers across Ireland would come from wetter winter and drier summer soils.

Laura Burke, EPA director, said: "Climate projections such as those provided in this report enable us to assess potential impacts, plan and take actions to avoid the worst of these, and if possible to utilise positive changes."

The EPA is an independent body set up by the government in 1994 to monitor Ireland's environment and advise on new policies and strategies.

It said it was vital to plan and take action to avoid the worst of these predictions and to make the best of positive changes.

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