Minister Denis Naughten links frequent storms to climate change

The frequent storms and floods hitting Ireland are linked to global warming, according to the Climate Action Minister Denis Naughten said.

“It’s not the case of any particular storm being associated with climate change, but the reality is we are having more frequent storms, more frequent flooding, more frequent 100-year floods and the frequency of that can be associated with climate change,” said Mr Naughten. “We’ve seen in the last number of years we’ve had two 100-year floods in a five-year period.”

He was speaking at a briefing of the National Emergency Co-Ordination Group yesterday in the wake of flooding in Galway and Limerick caused by Storm Eleanor.

Mr Naughten said the recent storms were as a result of cold polar air travelling as far south as Florida.

“The severity of the storms we’re seeing this particular season is a result of the fact that the polar air mass has gone significantly further south in the Atlantic. It’s down as far as the Florida coast,” he said.

Commenting on this polar air mass, meteorologist Evelyn Cusack said that the low temperatures in some parts of America right now were “very unusual”.

“It’s extremely cold over most of north America at the moment and the cold air is right down towards Florida, and the temperature in Dallas today was sort of zero and the night time in Dallas was minus five, now that’s very unusual because Dallas is in the desert more or less,” Ms Cusack said.

She also described the role this polar air mass has had in causing storms that have hit Ireland in recent days.

“The reason we get storms at our latitude is because of the contrast between polar air and tropical air coming up [from the tropics].

“So where the two clash you get a band of rain and that’s our rain. So you know the Gulf Stream that you learned about in school, that‘s bringing warm air from the tropics and that clashes with polar air coming down (from the Arctic), so you get storms formed and the jet stream brings them all across the world,” the meteorologist said.

She said the Arctic air mass is “much more vicious” than it has been.

“The cold polar air is all down north America so it’s much more vicious than normal, so you get an enhancement of storms,” Ms Cusack said.

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