SCAN Feb, 2017: The impacts of climate change on Shankill

According to Met Eireann, temperatures have risen overall in Ireland by 0.8 ˚C in the last century. The growing season is longer and frosts are less frequent. Climate change predictions for Ireland are for all seasons to be 1.0 ˚C to 1.5 ˚C warmer by 2050, there will be fewer cold spells and more heatwaves. Winters may be wetter and summers drier with an increased risk of drought. There may be a greater frequency of heavy rainfall events and hence flooding. Extreme events may increase in as we already seem to be seeing.

Shankill has a benign climate, tempered by the sea, and climate change impacts may be relatively modest and even positive. For example, garden plants will flower longer and we may need less heating in the winter. However, late frosts may destroy flowers on fruit trees and ecosystems may be disrupted leading, for example, to breeding failures among birds. Heavy rainfall may cause flooding locally, e.g. along the Loughlinstown River (although the County Council has put in effective mitigation measures), and storms may bring down more trees and damage infrastructure. The most important impact may be coastal erosion of the boulder clay cliffs, discussed elsewhere.

While we are an island nation, when it comes to climate change no nation is an island! Although Shankill, and Ireland in general, may escape the worst effects of climate change, we cannot ignore the impact it will have on other countries.