Ireland’s future is one of warmer summers and wetter winters, according to emeritus professor John Sweeney of Maynooth University.

Speaking at Biofarm - Ireland’s biological farming conference - in Adare on Tuesday 7 November, he said that June, July, August and September were the warmest since records began and July was the warmest ever month on the planet.

Sweeney has published over 100 scientific papers and edited four texts on various aspects of climatology and climate change in Ireland.

“Most climate scientists will now suggest that 6 July was probably the warmest day for 100,000 years on the planet. We’re living in the middle of climate change happening.

"We’ve been experiencing the marine heatwave on the Atlantic for a number of months now, with storms and depressions forming over that water, and we can tie up some of our recent flood events with those kinds of events as well,” he said.

Hot spots

This year stands out, especially this summer in terms of the surface air temperature difference from the average, Sweeney said.

“We are seeing the temperate regions and mid-latitude regions go up in flames in some cases; you saw the problems with the Canadian wildfires and we saw the smog over New York, for example.

“We can now for the first time look at the extent of the extremes of drought and the extent of the extremes of floods,” Sweeney explained.

He added that it’s not surprising that these increased extremes are coming, adding that they are going to be a feature of our future climate.

Warming Arctic

“The Arctic is warming four times quicker than the global average and North America hasn’t really responded yet to that global warming to the same extent as Europe,” he said.

Meanwhile, Europe is warming about twice as fast as the global average, Sweeny explained.

“Ireland emitted 68m tonnes of CO2 last year and everybody in the room is responsible for roughly one tonne per month per person. And that’s quite sobering.

"We also know that we are emitting 50% more in the way of greenhouse gas emissions per capita than the European average,” Sweeney said.