2000 - 2017 inventory of extreme weather events in Ireland

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Pasik, Adam
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Globally, extreme weather events are responsible for far more financial losses than the increase in mean temperature. In the context of climate change, attribution of the ever-increasing losses from these high-impact events is still contested. Some research finds climate change to drive the rising costs while other attributes this trend to socioeconomic factors such as higher population densities, demographical shift, accumulation of wealth and exposure of assets. As of yet no systematic inquiry into this matter has been carried out in Ireland. This research compiles a dataset of extreme weather events in Ireland between 2000 and 2017 based on an applied financial threshold of €30m. The overall annual losses are adjusted for inflation and emerging trends are identified and discussed. Population change and per capita GDP are considered as important variables in this research due to their potential to exacerbate losses even without any change in their frequency or climate. Temporal trends in population and per capita GDP are discussed as well as emerging spatial patterns in population distribution. Furthermore, loss values are normalized by adjusting them for inflation, population rise and GDP growth to better understand the relationship between losses from weather extremes and societal and economic factors. The results are contextualized in relevant peer-reviewed literature and compared to similar studies carried out elsewhere in the world. This study, in agreement with similar research implemented elsewhere, establishes an increasing trend in annual losses from weather extremes in Ireland, while also demonstrating that this trend is nullified by population rise and economic growth. During the study period population of Ireland has increased by 26.4%, resulting in 1 million new residents, meanwhile, the per capita GDP has more than doubled. Larger and wealthier populations hold more assets which can be potentially damaged. Losses from weather extremes in Ireland adjusted for population and wealth increase no longer show a rising trend, highlighting the importance of population densities and wealth accumulation as key factors driving the increase in financial damages stemming from weather and climatic extremes.
Extreme weather events , Extreme rainfall , Storm , Hurricane , Flood , Flooding , Climate , Climate extreme , Drought
Pasik, A. 2019. 2000 - 2017 inventory of extreme weather events in Ireland. MRes Thesis, University College Cork.