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What's With The Weather?

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Is summer in Ireland a thing of the past, to be replaced by the new 'monsoon season'? Last summer we experienced 45 consecutive days of rain, and this year we seem to have fared even worse, with record rainfalls and severe flooding. In one day, over 76mm of rain was recorded in Dublin, surpassing the previous record of 72mm that fell during Hurricane Charley in 1986. People all over the country have been left high and dry after flooding drove them out of their homes.

Ireland has just experiences the wettest August on record, and with severe flooding in parts of the country two weeks ago and a landslide in Kerry last week, people are becoming increasingly concerned that the effects of climate change are on our doorstep and that warm dry summers are a thing of the past.

Professor John Sweeney

Professor John Sweeney, Senior Geography Lecturer at NUI Maynooth is here to fill us in on what is happening to the Irish climate.

John Sweeney completed an undergraduate degree in geography at Glasgow University, followed by a PhD in the climatology and meteorology of air pollution in his native city.

He moved to Ireland in 1978 to take up a post of junior geography lecturer at NUI Maynooth, and has been based in Ireland since then.

In the intervening years, Sweeney has also served as president of the Irish Meteorological Society and president, secretary and editor for the Geographical Society of Ireland.

He has been treasurer of the Irish Quaternary Association and chairman of the Royal Irish Academy's committee on climate change, which is also the committee for the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme - an international body that promotes research into global climate change and its consequences.

Sweeney has seen his star rise steadily since he was appointed to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and contributed to its well-documented fourth assessment report. Speaking in Dublin late last year, Al Gore, the former US vice-president and climate change campaigner, applauded Sweeney for his work and his contribution to the IPCC. At the same event, Bono name-checked Sweeney.