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EPA Research Report 386: The Status of Ireland’s Climate, 2020

EPA Research Report 386: The Status of Ireland’s Climate, 2020

Date: 12 Aug 2021

Ireland’s climate is warmer and wetter in recent decades than previously observed.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Met Éireann (MÉ) and the Marine Institute (MI) have published a report on “The Status of Ireland’s Climate”.

This is the second comprehensive analysis of “essential” climate data collected in Ireland. It confirms and updates findings from the 2012 report and details how global changes are being reflected in our atmosphere, oceans and our landscape.

The report was prepared by MaREI, University College Cork and funded by The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Met Éireann (MÉ) and the Marine Institute (MI).

Key Findings from the Report


  • The annual average surface air temperature in Ireland has increased by over 0.9oC over the last 120 years, with a rise in temperature being observed in all seasons.
  • Annual precipitation was 6% higher in the period 1989 to 2018, compared to the 30-year period 1961 to 1990.
  • The concentration of the main Climate driver: greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide - measured in Ireland, continued to increase since 2012 with long term implications for our climate.


  • Satellite observations indicate that the sea level around Ireland has risen by approximately 2-3mm per year since the early 1990s.
  • Measurements in the surface water to the west of Ireland indicate an increase in ocean acidity which is comparable to the rate of change in oceans around the world.
  • The average sea surface temperature measured at Malin Head has been 0.47ºC higher over the last ten years compared to the period 1981-2010.


  • There is an increase in river flows across most of Ireland since the early 70s. However, there is evidence in recent years of an increase in potential drought conditions especially in the east.
  • Land cover observations since 1990 show increases in the areas covered by artificial surfaces and forest whilst there is a decrease in wetland areas.

How might the research be used?

Ireland’s long-term monitoring programme provides insight to the drivers and impact of Climate Change in Ireland. High-quality, up-to-date information on observed climate change across all domains is required for Ireland in order to select and develop appropriate mitigation and adaptation actions. The data and information provide a comprehensive understanding of climate change in Ireland and can inform mitigation and adaptation plans and actions at national local and sectoral levels.

The report also identified that progress has been made in several areas, of Ireland’s observation infrastructure, resourcing, analyses and co-ordination, since the previous climate status report in 2013.

Nonetheless, further action is needed to ensure the national climate observation system is fit for purpose for the coming decades. This includes continued maintenance of existing climate monitoring programmes and infrastructure, the transition of climate observations to long-term sustainable programmes, and investigate potential to monitor essential climate variables not currently observed in Ireland.

Links to relevant materials 

The Status of Ireland’s Climate, 2020
Summary brochure
Climate Ireland, Ireland's Climate Status Tool, provides interactive access to the Climate Status Report Ireland (CSRI) 2020.